From a miniature by Samuel Cooper in the possession of Lord Aldenham
THE LAST DAYS OF
1 CHARLES II 7 t>
BY RAYMOND CRAWFURD
M.A., M.D. OXON., F.R.C.P.
AT THE CLARENDON PRESS ^
HENRY FROWDE, M.A.
PUBLISHER TO THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
LONDON, EDINBURGH, NEW YORK
TORONTO AND MELBOURNE
OF late years much of the history of medicine has
been written : the medicine of history still remains
an almost unturned soil. Norman Moore's sketches
suggest what there is to do, and show how it should
be done. For the appearance of this brief study an
interlude of illness in the midst of an active profes-
sional life is at once the excuse and the explanation. In
reading Macaulay's account of the death of Charles II,
it could not but be apparent, that whatever the manner
of his dying, apoplexy was not, as historians have
determined, the cause. This at first led me to think
that, after all, the suspicions of poison might not be so
ill-founded as is generally believed. But when I came
to examine and compare all the available accounts of
eyewitnesses and contemporaries, I found that it was
no difficult task to piece together a typical picture of
death from chronic granular kidney (a form of Bright's
disease) with uraemic convulsions. The search also
revealed, that though the narrative of the death-bed has
been described with enviable picturesqueness both by
Jesse and by Macaulay, no one appears to have done so
with any approach to accuracy. Macaulay has warned
the unwary of the difficulty of digesting the vast mass
of materials into a consistent narrative. This dyspepsia
I have wantonly courted, and have satisfied at any rate
myself, that it is a mere matter of sufficient mastication
to reduce it to a simple assimilable state. Picturesque
language is a dangerous medium for the expression of
accurate observation, and in reconstructing the story
I have purposely contented myself with a bald presenta-
tion of facts. I am well aware that the world at large
regards minute accuracy as the acme of boredom.
I am aware too that dullness and prolixity are the
inalienable property of my profession ; these latter
I trust I have avoided.
History nowadays has ceased to be narrative, and has
become philosophical ; yet the need for minute accuracy
is none the less, for even philosophers cannot draw
right conclusions from wrong premisses.
I have transcribed and translated the manuscript
account by Sir Charles Scarburgh of the death of
Charles II. For permission to do so I owe my thanks
to the Council of the Society of Antiquaries, in whose
library it is deposited. It is a valuable supplement to
the lay literature of the subject.
My primary object in putting pen to paper has been
to establish the true cause of the death of Charles II.
I have therefore confined myself, as far as practicable,
in what follows, to such matters only as bear directly
or indirectly on this question. It would have been
impertinent in me to discuss controversial matter in
connexion with the diplomacy, the religion, the character
or the lack of it in the man, in spite of its supreme
NARRATIVE OF THE LAST ILLNESS . . . 22
MS. OF SCARBURGH: WITH MEMOIR . 52
TRANSLATION OF MS., WITH NOTES . . . 69
CHARLES II (Frontispiece]
MASK OF THE EFFIGY .... To face p. 18
SIR EDMUND KING ,,26
EFFIGY OF CHARLES II IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY 50
SIR CHARLES SCARBURGH AND ARRIS . 52
The following list embraces the more important contributions to
the literature of the subject :
Memoirs of Thomas, second Lord Ailesbury [Roxfrnrghe Club].
Dispatches of Barillon } Depot des Affaires Etrangeres : also in
Dispatches of Louis XIV) Dalrymple's Memoirs.
Dispatches of Van Citters : Rijks-Ar chief, the Hague : some in
Mackintosh MSS., British Museum.
Jo. Hudleston : Brief Account of What Occurred On His Death Bed
in Regard to Religion.
Sir Charles Scarburgn : MS. in Society of Antiquaries, Burlington
House. (No. 206.)
Philip, second Earl of Chesterfield : Some short Notes for my
remembrance of things and accidents, as they yearly happened
Sir H. Ellis : Original Letters.
J. S. Clarke : Life of James II.
J. Wei wood : Memoirs of the most Material Transactions in England
for the Last Hundred Years Preceding the Revolution in 1688.
Privy Council Records in Privy Council Office.
Chaillot MS., British Museum.
Somers Broadside in Somers Civil Tracts.
Burnett History of My Own Time.
Hawkins: Life of Ken.
Secret History of Reigns of Charles II and James II.
Sir H. Halford : Deaths of Eminent Persons.
Westminster Abbey Register of Burials.
Hon. Henry Sidney : Diary of the Times of Charles II.
Boero (Giuseppe) : Isf. delta conversione di Carlo' II d 1 Inghilterra.
Life and Times of Anthony Wood (Oxford Historical Society).
Hon. R. North : Autobiography.
Examen: enquiry into the credit of a pretended
, , Lives of Guildford. Lord North, and Hon. Sir Dudley
Fountainhall : Historical observes of memorable occurrents.
Sheffield, Duke of Buckinghamshire : Works.
W. Harris : Account of life of Charles II.
Narcissus Luttrell : Brief relation of State affairs.
Macpherson : History of Great Britain.
Cibber, Apology for the life of. By himself.
Bradley : Annals of Westminster Abbey .
J. Hughes : Boscobel Tracts.
Jesse : Memoirs of the court during the reigns of the Stuarts.
Munk : Roll of College of Physicians.
Forneron : Louise ae Ke'roualle.
Pharmacopoeia y 1677.
COMMENTS ON THE NARRATIVE
THE literature of the death-bed of Charles II is
singularly abundant and interesting. There are in
existence no less than eight descriptions from the pens
of eyewitnesses. If these accounts are examined side
by side, and statement weighed against statement,
a striking agreement will be found to exist among
them. It will be well, perhaps, to enumerate these
principal sources of information. They are:
1. The Memoirs of Thomas, second Lord Ailesbury.
As Gentleman of the Bedchamber he was in intimate
relation to King Charles, both before and during the
illness. His memoirs, commenced in 1729, were written
abroad, where he had lived in exile for many years.
Presumably, therefore, they were compiled without
facilities for reference, and he tells us that he had no
notes to aid his memory. One cannot fail to perceive
that they were written in reply to, and for the most part
to refute, the narrative of Welwood in the Memoirs
of the most Material Transactions in England for the
Last Hundred Years Preceding the Revolution in
1688. In places the language makes it almost certain
that Ailesbury actually wrote with Welwood's Memoirs
2. The Dispatches of Barillon, the French Ambassador
in London, to Louis XIV. The death-bed dispatch
shows the cold, unemotional precision one would expect
from this past-master of corruption, whom Louis sent
to supersede Courtin, when the need of wholesale
bribery arose. They exist in the Depot des Affaires
8 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
Etrangeres at Paris, and many of them have been
transcribed in Dalrymple's Memoirs.
3. The Dispatches of Van Citters, the Dutch Am-
bassador. These dispatches are far more concise than
those of Barillon. They show the mind of a man
who has the knack of selecting the points of essential
importance, which in those of Barillon are often almost
buried in a mass of detail. These dispatches are pre-
served in the Dutch Archives at the Hague, but some
of them are also included in the Mackintosh Collection
at the British Museum.
4. Hudleston's Account, still extant in print in a work
entitled: 'A Short and Plain Way to the Faith and
Church : composed many years since by that eminent
Divine Mr. Richard Hudleston of the English Congre-
gation of the Order of St. Benedict ; and now published
for the common good by his nephew Mr. Jo. Hudleston
of the same Congregation. To which is annexed his
late Majesty King Charles the Second his Papers found
in his Closet after his decease. As also a Brief Account
of What Occurred On His Death Bed In Regard to
Religion. Permissu Superiorum. London. 1688.
This Tract was published under the patronage, and
it is believed by request, of King James, and is dedicated
to the Dowager Queen Catherine. In the dedication,
Hudleston says that he had been one of Catherine's
priests from the time of her accession : and that
King Charles first saw the above-named book by
Richard Hudleston, when he was hiding at Moseley
during his flight after the battle of Worcester. John
Hudleston claims that the reading of this book was
instrumental in bringing about Charles's conversion to
Romanism. For this reason it was published along
with the account of the Death-bed Ceremony, and with
the two papers found in Charles's strong-box or closet
after his death, which are held to breathe the same
Hudleston's Death-bed Account has the genuine ring
of truth. Whenever the circumstances of the secret
ceremony permit confirmation of details, they are con-
firmed by the accounts of other eyewitnesses. Barillon
says that Hudleston had to be instructed what to do
and say, parce que de lui-meme ce n'etoit pas un grand
docteur. This, taken with Mary of Modena's description
of him to the nuns of Chaillot as un homme simple, has
generally been taken as implying that he was illiterate.
Probably it means no more than that he did not fall
naturally into the delicate and important part cast upon
him at a moment's notice, for Mary adds : ' il eut etc
a souhaiter dans une occasion si importante qu'on eut
trouve un sujet plus habile, pour aider ce grand Prince
a faire une bonne mort.' An illiterate priest would
hardly have been selected as tutor to Sir John Preston
and the nephews of Mr. Whitgrave of Moseley.
From the Stuart Papers we learn that Hudleston had
attested his account on or before April 8, 1686.
5. The manuscript account by Sir Charles Scarburgh,
first physician to King Charles II. The MS. may now
be seen in the library of the Society of Antiquaries at
Burlington House : it is here transcribed and translated,
and reproduced at the end of this volume. On the whole,
it is a creditable piece of Latin prose for a busy physician
of 70 years, as became an age when medicine was not
yet divorced from a study of the arts. It will be obvious
to the most casual reader that the account is not
intended to be a complete description of the last illness.
Symptoms are mentioned only incidentally, while the
means and aims of treatment are discussed in the fullest
detail. There can be little room for doubt that it was
io THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
written to refute the idle rumours of poisoning current
at the time. It establishes beyond question the unanimity
of the physicians, and forms an interesting commentary
on Burnet's graphic picture of their disagreements. It
shows that those -who directed the treatment had no
suspicion of poison in their minds. It states categorically
that at the autopsy nothing abnormal was found in
the abdomen. From this we may infer, either that the
stomach and intestines were examined, and found to be
normal ; or that, so far was there from being at the time
any suspicion of poison and the collateral literature
shows this to have been the case that they were not
even specially inspected.
The stress laid on the scene of affectionate farewell
between James and Charles is manifestly designed to
convey that James in any case was above suspicion.
From the internal evidence of the MS. it is certain
that the account was written at a date when details
of time were no longer fresh in the writer's memory.
For example, a portion of the treatment carried out on
Thursday is ascribed to Friday. The natural pre-
sumption is that the MS. was compiled from Scarburgh's
personal notebook, probably at the request of James,
to whom also he was personal physician. Stress of
work and the strain of a five nights' vigil may well
have delayed the writing of the daily notes : hence the
6. Passages from the diary and letters of Philip,
second Earl of Chesterfield. In his MS. he aptly de-
scribes them as ' Some short Notes for my remembrance
of things and accidents, as they yearly happened to mee '.
But for a few trifling inaccuracies of day and hour,
he is confirmed in all material points by the accounts
of the other eyewitnesses. His duties compelled him
during the illness to turn night into day, with the familiar
consequence of a confused impression of the passage
of time. He refers to one of his letters as being written
in ' such a confusion of mind, that I hardly knew then,
or doe now remember what I writ '.
7. An anonymous letter to the Rev. Francis Roper,
Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge. It is included
in Ellis's Original Letters. The internal evidence
shows it to have been written on the day following
King Charles's death by one of the chaplains of
Dr. Turner, Bishop of Ely, who was present when the
King died. It is not without interest to note that this
year Tillotson, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury,
was one of the chaplains to the Bishop of Ely.
The letter now preserved in the British Museum is
only a copy of the original, so that the handwriting
affords no clue. It is the letter of a man with a keenly
impressionable mind, possessed also of the power of
expressing his thoughts in language of singular charm
8. The Life of James the Second, compiled, probably
in the first few years of the eighteenth century, from
the lost memoirs in his own handwriting. The narrative
of Charles's death-bed is almost verbally identical with
two extant Stuart Papers, the property of the present
King, in James's own handwriting. Whoever compiled
the Life, as edited by Clarke, had seen either these
papers or duplicates of them. In most points, in which
religious controversy is not involved, James is in agree-
ment with the other eyewitnesses. To appreciate the
extent to which his mind was warped by religious
bigotry, it is instructive to read the account written
down in the Memoirs side by side with the account
recited by James and Queen Mary to the nuns of
Chaillot. The latter reeks of self-righteousness, and
the divergences in the two accounts show up clearly
12 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
James's propensity for accommodating himself to the
religious requirements of the moment. Were this but
an isolated instance, one might be disposed to attribute
some of the discrepancies to a liberal subediting by
the nuns of Chaillot. But it must be remembered that
Mary was actually resident in the convent at the time
of James's visit, so that it is at least probable that the
nuns would have submitted the account to her for
confirmation and approval, after it had been committed
to writing. In the Memoirs, James lets us see him in
the relatively healthy role of religious intolerance,
characteristic of the retired naval officer of flag rank.
Such are the various accounts that eyewitnesses
have left behind. Not one of them, however, is superior
to, and few can rank side by side with, the account given
by Evelyn in his Diary. On all details, even those of
purely medical interest, he is abundantly confirmed
by the evidence of eyewitnesses, while here and there
he serves to elucidate their obscurities. His narrative
stands as a perpetual reproach to such men as Burnet
and Welwood, who with the same opportunities as
Evelyn for unravelling the truth have failed signally
to discriminate between fact and fiction. The eighteenth
century was probably unjust in dubbing Burnet a liar
and an impostor, but in the milder phraseology of the
twentieth century one cannot but express regret that
personal prejudice and religious rancour should have
so blinded his eyes as to make them incapable of
discerning the truth. Throughout, his story is in such
open conflict with that of the eyewitnesses that one
is compelled regretfully to consign the whole to the
scrap-heap of historical romance. By some curious
caprice modern historians have drawn their material
largely from his account and that of Welwood.
James Welwood was a physician, apparently of no
special distinction, unless it be accounted such that he
was chosen as physician to Mary, the wife of William III.
His Memoirs were written at the request of Queen Mary,
from whom he extracted a promise that no one should
see the MS. but herself. It was found in her cabinet
at her death, and published at the request of King
William in 1699. He would have his reader choose
between apoplexy and poison, between them and them
only. If it were not apoplexy, and he is on firm enough
ground in discrediting this belief, then he argues there
is at least a prima facie case for poison. In considering
the pros and cons, he affects to hold the scales impar-
tially. As a fact, his arguments in support of the
theory of poison are mere fabrications, based on the idle
tittle-tattle of the day : as medical science, most of his
statements are grotesque. If there be any value in his
narrative it is to be found in its involuntary admissions.
He allows that King Charles himself expressed no
suspicion of being poisoned throughout the whole
course of his illness : and he admits ' that there was
not anything to be seen upon opening his body, that
could reasonably be attributed to the force of poison ',
but with this reservation, that it ' must be acknowledged,
that there are poisons which affect originally the animal
spirits, and are of so subtle a nature, that they leave no
concluding marks upon the bodies of those they kill '.
There is no getting to close grips with reasoning of
From these accounts, along with numerous scattered
details in contemporary literature, there is little difficulty
in piecing together the true picture of King Charles's
fatal illness. One may assert, with considerable con-
fidence, that his death was due to chronic granular
kidney (a form of Bright's disease) with uraemic convul-
sions, a disease that claims the highest proportion of
i 4 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
its victims during the fifth and sixth decades of life.
From boyhood Charles had lived hard: the physical
strain and the mental stress, that leave their mark on
the blood-vessels and through them on the kidney, he
had known in full measure. Numerous allusions up
and down the literature of the time indicate that he was
a habitually large eater, and mainly of albuminous food.
Alcohol he had taken freely, at times to gross excess :
he had been the slave of sexual passion. Gout had
come on him in his later years. We know from the
testimony of Ailesbury, of Buckingham, of North, of
Fountainhall, and of others, that at length his excesses
had combined to destroy the natural vigour of his
constitution. During the last few months preceding
his death a prolonged attack of gout had prevented his
daily exercise, and depressed his buoyant spirits. Amid
these evidences of failing health, the last scene was
ushered in by an attack of convulsions, 1 so severe as to
threaten immediate dissolution. Of the nature of these
convulsions there can be no reasonable doubt. After
a restless night, he arose pale and ill: his mind was
dazed : he could speak, but halted constantly, as though
he had forgotten what he wished to say. He went
mechanically, as in a stupor, through the preliminaries
of his daily toilet : all at once the convulsions were upon
him. For all but two hours he remained speechless,
but his senses never completely left him. Rapid relief
followed the initial bleeding. But from the first there
was a threatening of recurrence. The fatal misuse of
Cantharides, to excite extensive blistering, must have
done much to rob the kidneys of the last vestige of
functional activity. 2 On Wednesday afternoon the skin
1 ' Convulsivi motus ' Scarburgh.
2 Macaulay assigns to the medical profession an undue share of
broke into a cold, clammy sweat : this was the beginning
of the end. The relapse was marked by a recurrence
of convulsions. By noon on Thursday his state was
desperate. About four o'clock a further and more
violent attack of convulsions seized him. He was
speechless in the fits, but in the intervals conscious
to the full. In the evening he joined in prayer with
the bishops, and received the sacrament from Hudleston
of his own choice. Throughout Thursday night his
mind was clear and composed : with death slowly
stealing on him he spoke often and tenderly to those
around him. At six o'clock on Friday morning, with
infinite pathos, the dying monarch asked to see for the
last time the light of the rising sun :
.... but let me be,
While all around in silence lies,
Moved to the window near, and see
Once more, before my dying eyes,
Bathed in the sacred dews of morn
The wide aerial landscape spread
The world which was ere I was born,
The world which lasts when I am dead.
At seven o'clock he was seized with urgent breathless-
ness, with rhythmic variations of waxing and waning.
He was bled, but at half -past eight his speech began
to fail. At ten o'clock he lay unconscious and dying.
Shortly before noon he expired quietly, without any
renewal of convulsions.
At the autopsy, performed the following day, the
physicians were struck by the oedematous state of
the brain, and the large amount of serous fluid in
the ventricles, conditions associated later by Traube and
the credit of laying the Stuart dynasty by the heels. The illness
would normally have terminated fatally.
16 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
others with uraemic convulsions, variously as cause
and effect. The characteristic hypertrophy of the heart
was found, but recorded in simple terms as ' large and
firm '. No special mention is made of the kidney, but
that, like the other abdominal organs, it was full of blood :
presumably the morbid changes, as is not infrequently
the case, had not produced a degree of contraction
sufficient to arrest attention at a glance.
It is hard to see how medical knowledge, as it was
at this period, could afford a fuller description than
this of ' gouty kidney with uraemia '.
It is instructive to consider how the belief that the
death was due to apoplexy has arisen. Scarburgh
speaks only of ' convulsions '. Even the lay mind of
Chesterfield, who was in close attendance day and night,
commits itself cautiously to the diagnosis of ' something
like an apoplexie'. In 1685 there was no limitation
of the term as now to rupture or occlusion of a cerebral
artery. Wepfer, of Schaffhausen, in 1658 had demon-
strated the relation, but it was not yet accepted generally
by English physicians, if at all. Burnet seems to have
a vague notion of the relationship when he says that
' so many of the small veins of the brain were burst,
that the brain was in great disorder and no judgement
could be made concerning it '. The term apoplexy at
this time possessed a very wide connotation. It em-
braced air sudden seizures of convulsive or paralytic
type, with or without loss of consciousness : a century
later the term was still employed generically to cover
epilepsy, hysterical fits, infantile convulsions, and other
states, as well as haemorrhage from a ruptured cerebral
artery. It was legitimate then to speak of uraemic con-
vulsions as apoplexy, but has long since ceased to be.
1 Fit ' was, like apoplexy, at this time a word of equi-
vocal meaning. It has led to a curious mistake on the
part of Ailesbury. He asserts, in common with Welwood,
that Charles had previously suffered from fits, and gives
the date of the first fit as about Bartholomew tide, 1679.
This was the well-known occasion on which James
returned hurriedly from abroad to Windsor. The
following letters from Sidney's Diary clear up the point.
MR. MOUNTSTEVENS TO MR. SIDNEY.
Windsor, Aug. 29, 1679.
The last account I gave you from hence was upon
Tuesday: that night the King was taken ill with a fit,
but much more moderately than upon Friday and
Sunday night: since that he has had not the least
appearance of one : so that the physicians are of opinion
he will have no more of it. . . .
MR. MOUNTSTEVENS TO MR. SIDNEY.
Windsor, Sept. 2, 1679.
It is now almost a week since the King has had any
appearance of an ague; and you may guess, by the
method he takes, he will soon recover his strength as
well as his health, having exchanged water-gruels and
potions for mutton and partridges, on which he feeds
frequently and heartily. . . . Yesterday morning,
the Duke of York arrived at Dover, and this morning
he came hither, but very slenderly attended, who
immediately went to wait upon the King.
SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE TO MR. SIDNEY.
Sheen, Aug. 29.
. . I will tell you, because I am just now come
from Windsor, that he [the King] was to-day much
better than I expected to find him, after having passed
a very ill day on Wednesday : though I had given the
Prince of Orange an account of his health the night
i8 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
before, with good hopes of the worst being over, and
will now be confident it is, since all the physicians are
so, and he has missed his fit both yesterday and
to-day. . . .
THE DOWAGER LADY SUNDERLAND TO MR. SIDNEY.
Sept. 2, 1679.
I writ to you as soon as my little brains were settled
by hearing the King was much mended, and, thanks be
to God, does yet continue : but I have the less comfort
in it because his fits were put off, like mine, by the
Jesuit's powder [quinine, then as now a specific for
malaria], and it was as necessary to give it to him as to
me, for he was with two fits weaker than I was with
more. ... I believe yet there is scarcely anybody
beyond Temple Bar that believes his distemper pro-
ceeded from anything but poison, though as little like
it as if he had fallen from a horse.
True then, as Ailesbury and Welwood assert, Charles
had previously suffered from ' fits ', but the fits were fits
One hundred and fifty years later, Sir Henry Halford
at the College of Physicians, from the serene seclusion
of the presidential chair, finally stereotyped on history
the error that had arisen from a confusion of terms, by
supplying the premisses necessary to support the wrong
conclusion. He pronounced the death to be a fair
specimen of apoplexy, and expressed surprise that
Burnet should attribute the King's indifference to all
religious exhortations to anything but insensibility from
disease. ' The King was incapable of discriminating
altogether under the circumstances. Every faculty of
his mind was gone. If he were a Protestant therefore,
before he was taken ill, he died a Protestant. If he had
already renounced the religion of his father, he died
a Roman Catholic/ In proof of his dictum, Sir Henry
called attention to the obvious signs of paralysis in the
effigy of King Charles in Westminster Abbey.
The appended narrative of the death-bed scene,
attested by a number of eyewitnesses, whose credibility
is put beyond question by their general agreement as
to the circumstances, disposes at once of the assertion
that 'every faculty of his mind was gone'. If the
narrative be reliable, then there can be no question as
to the truth of the death-bed conversion to Romanism. 1
If any one familiar with the appearance of recent
facial palsy, as it is seen in life, will study carefully the
mask of the Westminster effigy (see illustration), he will
see at once that the asymmetry of the face has no
resemblance to that due to paralysis. It must be
remembered too that the facial paralysis due to rupture
of a cerebral vessel is an incomplete and ill-marked
condition. As an isolated paralysis, without associated
paralysis of the arm or leg of the same side, it is also of
exceedingly rare occurrence. Yet we know that his
speech was not paralysed, and that his hands were not
paralysed negative evidence of the utmost importance.
To this we would add that the muscular relaxation of
1 I have deliberately written death-bed conversion to Romanism,
not profession of Romanism. Charles's leaning to Catholicism was
an inevitable consequence of his character and of his circumstances :
dour Protestantism stank in his nostrils : the Covenanters' heaven
had no attraction for him. He had, on occasion, been present at
Mass during his exile. He had in 1670 definitely pledged himself
to Catholicism --a pledge the sincerity of which may be gauged by
perusing the dispatches of Colbert. Had there been any formal
reconciliation to the Church of Rome, James or the Duchess of
Portsmouth would assuredly have known it. With the question-
able exception of Hudleston, all the Catholic accounts regard it as
a death-bed conversion, though many claim that in his heart he had
long espoused their creed. His life did little credit to any creed.
20 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
death effaces almost beyond detection such traces
of paralysis as may have been present in life.
The portraits of King Charles (see frontispiece) all
show well-defined naso-labial ridges, symmetrically
placed. The mask shows the same well-defined folds,
but they are asymmetrical : the left is on a plane below
the level of the right. There is no obliteration of the
one, no exaggeration of the other, merely displacement
of the left : this displacement is part and parcel of
a deep conical fosse in the centre of the left cheek.
It is difficult to resist the conclusion that this was
produced by the pressure used in taking the cast from
the face after death. In all likelihood the cast was
taken after the autopsy had been performed. As the
brain was examined the scalp must have been reflected,
and this may afford a further explanation of the displace-
ment of the tissues of the face. The fosse may indicate
the loss of the underlying teeth in the upper jaw.
Further, it is unreasonable to assume that obvious
paralysis of the face was present in life, and yet was
not mentioned by any of the onlookers, who have so
minutely described what they saw.
So much for the theory of apoplexy. We have already
seen that the grounds for suspicion of poison were even
more slender. There was no suspicion of poison before
death, and none at the time of the autopsy. It must
be remembered that the deaths of those in high places
were at this time not infrequently ascribed to poison,
especially if the actual cause were not apparent. James I
had been accused of poisoning Prince Henry, though
he really died of typhoid fever. Charles I had been
accused of poisoning James I, Cromwell of poisoning
Princess Elizabeth. It needed only the comparative
obscurity of the funeral to set the rumour going.
It lay with James to decide the character of the
funeral. James's conduct was habitually determined by
one of two ruling passions, self-righteousness and par-
simony. If he allowed the King, who had covertly
died a papist, to be openly buried with the full rites
of the English Church, he would have lost caste with
the papists. Again, if the funeral had been conducted
coram publico and by day, the expense would have been
necessarily great. Fountainhall says that it was felt
it must in that case outshine Cromwell's funeral in
splendour. Cromwell's funeral cost ^"60,000. What
would seem to be collateral evidence of the strength
of this feeling is to be found in the sum voted by
Parliament in January, 1678, for a solemn interment
and monument of Charles I. The sum voted, and paid
to his son Charles, was ^"70,000. The designs by Wren
for a mausoleum and tomb are still in existence, on
paper, but not in stone. Stuart remembrance was
short enough for the living : it gave still shorter shrift
to the dead.
NARRATIVE OF THE LAST ILLNESS
OF CHARLES II
[References to authors are given only when the passage or its
context is of special importance : they do not indicate exclusive
THE last illness of Charles II set in with tragic
suddenness : of the day preceding it we catch some
passing glimpses. It was a Sunday, and a sore on his
Ailes- heel, that had troubled him for some little time, robbed
>urv< him of his customary walk. He had been for years an
indefatigable walker. In London or out, unless the
Ailes- weather kept him within doors, he was accustomed
AnSony to ta ^ e two Dr isk walks a day. He walked mostly in
Wood, St. James's Park, where, followed by his spaniels, he
delighted in taking food to the ducks: sometimes he
Wei- walked in the adjoining Arlington Gardens. Tall beyond
Burnet avera g e height, and in his later years of spare, wiry
build, he would at times stride along so fast that it was
difficult to keep pace with him. Like many another of
strong physique and active habits, gout claimed him
as a victim. A long, tedious attack had kept him much
Anthony indoors during the few months preceding his death,
Wood. k ut k v t j le enc j Q f j anuarv h e was believed to be pretty
well quit of it for the time : but this and other causes
seemed latterly to have markedly impaired the natural
Fountain- vigour of his constitution. On this last Sunday, instead
of walkin g> ne had taken tn e air in a caleche, with
Ailesbury in attendance. Ailesbury's last week of
waiting had commenced on January 26, Monday the
usual day and in the normal course of things should
have expired on the following Monday, February 2.
NARRATIVE OF THE LAST ILLNESS 23
On this Sunday evening, his father, who of late years Ailes-
had but seldom attended at Court, joined the supper bur y
levee : the King received him with marked friendliness,
rallying him genially on his scant attendance, and
graciously offered to keep his son with him at Court
so long as he lived. At supper the King 'did eat
with an excellent stomach and one thing very hard of
digestion a goose egg, if not two'. The King's
appetite had always been hearty: in the days of his
exile it had cost him the hand of Mademoiselle de
Montpensier ; but accustomed as she was to Bourbon
voracity, maybe the empty purse repelled her at least
as much as the full stomach. Pepys depicts him on
the day of his Restoration, toying with pease-pudding
and pork and boiled beef aboard ship, with the crown
awaiting him ashore. He had been, too, a free drinker
and figured now and again in drunken orgies, but in
his later years, from necessity or from choice, he had
eschewed excess. After supper the King repaired, as
usual, to the apartments of the Duchess of Portsmouth
' to amuse himself with the company that ate there '.
Of these splendid apartments in Whitehall, furnished
luxuriously and with ten times greater wealth and
magnificence than those of Queen Catherine, Evelyn Evelyn,
has given us a faithful picture. These apartments,
thrice pulled down and thrice rebuilt to gratify her
prodigal and sumptuous fancy, presented a sufficient
contrast to the homely apartments of the Queen, which
in their accommodation and furniture were such as any
lady of rank might have occupied. The walls were
hung with tapestries of exquisite design and workman-
ship, the finest product of French handicraft : in them
were depicted the palaces of her liege-lord, Louis XIV,
Versailles, Saint-Germain, and the rest, mingled with
hunting scenes, landscapes, figures of men and women,
24 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
and exotic birds. Choice cabinets of Japanese lacquer
were laden with great vases of wrought gold and silver ;
screens and clocks of priceless worth stood side by side
with tables and stands of massive silver, while chimney
furniture, sconces, branched candlesticks, and braziers
were all fashioned in the same metal. On the walls
also hung the spoils of the vanquished, 'some of
Her Majesty's best paintings/ The saintly Evelyn has
penned in a few lines a lurid picture of the scene that
Evelyn, met his eyes on that fateful Sunday evening : * I can
never forget the inexpressible luxury and profaneness,
gaming and all manner of dissoluteness, and as it were
total forgetfulness of God (it being Sunday evening)
which this day se'nnight I was witness of, the King
sitting and toying with his concubines, Portsmouth,
Cleveland, and Mazarin, etc., a French boy singing
love songs, in that glorious gallery, whilst about 20
of the great courtiers and other dissolute persons were
at Basset round a large table, a bank of at least 2000 in
gold before them, upon which two gentlemen who were
with me made reflections with astonishment. Six days
Ailes- after all was in the dust/ Hither, his own supper
ury> ended, came Ailesbury, Gentleman of the Bedchamber,
to await his master's pleasure. The King was in the
most charming humour imaginable, so that many re-
marked that they had never seen him in brighter mood.
It was Ailesbury's duty to light him to his bedchamber,
whither he went at his usual hour. But amid all the
glories of this feast of Belshazzar, the handwriting was
already on the wall ! As Ailesbury handed the candle
to the page of the backstairs, it went out, though it was
a very large wax candle, and there was no draught.
The page of the backstairs cast a superstitious glance
at Ailesbury, and shook his head. In his bedchamber
Charles undressed himself, put on his nightgown, and,
NARRATIVE OF THE LAST ILLNESS 25
as was his custom, went to ease himself. Here he
lingered for some time, joining in merry banter and
jesting, with Ailesbury holding the candle, and Killi-
grew, who possessed an ever ready fund of buffoonery,
holding the paper. Charles had not studied in vain the
easy manners of the Court of Versailles ! Among much
else Ailesbury asked the King to use his influence to
procure for a near relative some post he coveted, and
this Charles immediately granted. Gradually the con-
versation shifted to the subject of the palace the King
was building at Winchester, in the belief that the air
would suit his health better than that of Windsor, and R. North.
Ailesbury records his ominous words, ' I shall be most
happy this week, for my building will be covered with Ailes-
lead.' In less than seven days his dead body lay in its ury '
As gentleman and groom respectively of the bed-
chamber, Ailesbury and Killigrew shared the King's
room at nights. They undressed themselves in an
adjacent room, and were then lighted by the page of
the backstairs to the royal bed-chamber. As soon as
the page had retired, they shut up the door on the
inside with a brass knob, and went to bed, but not
always, alas ! to sleep. The large open grate was
filled with Scotch coal, that kept alight all night: in
the bright firelight a dozen spaniels wandered rest-
lessly from bed to bed : an array of pendulum clocks
chimed the quarters, and, each observing its own
peculiar times and seasons, kept the night alive with
unceasing discord. The King, inured to this babel
of noise, slept soundly : not so Ailesbury ; in his
broken slumber he heard the King turn himself about
from time to time : as a rule he slept the sleep that
tosses not, nor turns. On waking, Charles called, as
was his wont, to his attendant gentlemen, who noticed
26 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
no strangeness in his voice. While they slept on,
Charles rose from bed and passed from his bed-
chamber to his private closet. Here Robert Howard,
a groom of the bedchamber, met him looking pale
as ashes and ghastly, and unable or unwilling to say
a single word. Meantime Ailesbury had risen and
opened the door, so that the servants might come and
attend to the fire, and then passed out to his own
dressing-room. In the room next the bedchamber
he saw ' the physicians and surgeons ' waiting to
dress the King's heel, and here Robert Howard
accosted him with an inquiry as to how the King
had slept, and described the sight he had just seen.
Upon this Ailesbury at once fetched the notorious
Chiffins, first page of the backstairs and keeper of
the closet, and sent him to beg the King to return
to his bedchamber, as the morning was bitter, and
he in his nightgown only. Chiffins went instantly in
search of the King, but finding he paid no heed to what
he said returned and told Ailesbury, who urged him to
make a second attempt, as etiquette forbade any one else
to enter the private closet. This time the King returned
to the bedchamber with his face pale as death. The
Earl of Craven, colonel of the footguards, was there,
waiting to receive from the King the pass-word for the
day: he handed him the paper on which the days of
the month and the pass-words were written down,
but the King was speechless. Others who were now
present spoke to him, but the King either was silent, or
stopped in the middle of speaking, as if he had forgotten
Chester- what he intended to say. At last the King became
sensible of his own condition, and ordered 1 the company
1 I have been driven to this inference by the force of the circum-
stantial evidence. It is irrational to assume that all the physicians
and surgeons, except Edmund King, would have left him, when
SIR EDMUND KING
Who 'blooded the King'
From a portrait in the Royal College of Physicians
NARRATIVE OF THE LAST ILLNESS 27
to withdraw, leaving only Ailesbury, Edmund King, 1
physician and quondam surgeon, and the barber, who
attended daily to shave the King. During his shaving Ailes-
he always sat ' with his knees against the window '. bury '
The barber had just fixed the linen on one side and was
passing behind the chair to fix it on the other, when North's
the King fell back with a cry into the arms of Ailesbury, Examen -
who was standing close beside him. The hour was then
eight o'clock precisely, and Monday morning. The Scar-
violence of the convulsions is attested by Scarburgh, ^sf
and is also duly recorded in the official announcement
of the Privy Council, who met about twelve o'clock Van
noon in the antechamber of the sick-room, and were in Cltters -
almost constant session throughout the illness, com-
municating frequently with the physicians in attendance. Examen.
Of the characteristic features of the convulsions no
trustworthy record survives, and it is instructive to
note generally that the more minute the description
the further removed was the writer from the scene
described. Prompt treatment was at hand. King, who
had been a surgeon, seems to have hesitated, and well
he might, for it was the law that no one should bleed Chaillot
the King without the consent of his chief ministers, and
the penalty of disobedience was death. In a hurried
consultation, in which King alleged that His Majesty
would die if he were not bled, Ailesbury seems to have Ailes-
taken the initiative, and asking King if he had his y '
they saw his condition, except under compulsion. The company
too would have stayed for curiosity, if for no other motive, and we
know that they did not.
1 This portrait of Sir Edmund King, 'who blooded the King,'
is in the Royal College of Physicians in London. It was
painted by Lely, and engraved by Williams. At the foot of the
latter, King is described as the person ' qui praesenti animo
(ope divina) sereniss: regem Car II a morte subitanea dexterrime
eripuit Februarii 2, 1684.'
28 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
lancet with him, and, receiving an affirmative reply,
Scar- instructed him forthwith to bleed the King. The
^| gh bleeding was subsequently approved by the whole
body of physicians in consultation, and the Privy
Ailes- Council voted a sum of 1,000 to King, which was
bury. never paid, James finding a knighthood a more conve-
nient method of discharging the debt. Sixteen ounces
of blood were removed from a vein in his right arm with
Scar- immediate good effect. As was the approved practice
MS gh at this time, the King was allowed to remain in the
Chaillot chair in which the convulsions seized him; his teeth
MS - were held forcibly open to prevent him biting his tongue ;
the regimen was, as Roger North pithily describes it,
'first to get him to wake, and then to keep him from
sleeping/ Urgent messages had been dispatched to
the King's numerous personal physicians, who quickly
came flocking to his assistance : they were summoned
Dugdale. regardless of distinctions of creed and politics, and they
came. They ordered cupping-glasses to be applied to
S car . his shoulders forthwith, and deep scarification to be
burgh carried out, by which they succeeded in removing
Sca r_ another eight ounces of blood. A strong antimonial
burgh emetic was administered, but as the King could be got
to swallow only a small portion of it, they determined to
render assurance doubly sure by a full dose of Sulphate
of Zinc. Strong purgatives were given, and supple-
mented by a succession of clysters. The hair was
shorn close and pungent blistering agents applied all
over his head ; and as though this were not enough,
Chaillot ^e red-hot cautery was requisitioned as well. So
MS - severe were the convulsions that the physicians at first
despaired of his life, but in some two hours conscious-
Chester- ness was completely restored. As soon as tidings of
field. ^e King's seizure reached Catherine, she hurried from
her apartments to his bedside. The spectacle of her
NARRATIVE OF THE LAST ILLNESS 29
stricken husband so overwhelmed her with emotion
that she gave way to an outburst of hysterical grief.
Charles had spoken her name and asked for her as Letter to
soon as speech and sense returned to him, but her R P er -
anguish robbed her of the power of words, and she
withdrew to her own apartments.
As soon as the first bleeding was over, Ailesbury had Ailes-
gone in hot haste to St. James's Palace to summon the bury<
Duke of York, who came so instantly that he arrived
with one slipper and one shoe. The Duchess followed
close on his footsteps, to find the Lord Keeper Guildford Chaillot
and the Earl of Bath, first Gentleman of the Bed- MS>
chamber, already there. The King was now moved
from the chair to his bed, where the Duke of York
had hurried to his side. Seeing Ailesbury, the King Ailes-
grasped his hand with the words, ' I see you love me ury '
dying as well as living/ and thanked him for inducing
Edmund King to bleed him, and also for having sent
Chiffins to bring him from his private closet. His
Majesty then told his own tale. He felt unwell on
rising from bed, and went to his closet to get some
of the famous ' King's Drops ' : these were a volatile
extract of bone, made up in the King's own laboratory
after a formula devised by Dr. Jonathan Goddard, in
high repute on the Continent, and commended by no
less an authority than Sydenham. There he walked
about, hoping to get better, but at Ailesbury's repeated
request he came out of his closet, and down the three or
four stairs leading from the closet to the bedchamber ;
here he was attacked with giddiness and nearly fell.
By this time the King was l in a pretty good state ', Letter to
which Chesterfield ascribes to the joint agency of the Ormond '
medical remedies and the blessing of God, so that the
physicians were able to pronounce him out of danger
for the present.
30 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
Letter to As soon as the news of the King's precarious state
an ' spread to the town, genuine sorrow was manifest on
Van every face, and, fear inspiring belief, rumours of his
Dugdaie death were r ^ e : m tne hearts of his subjects, and not
least in the hearts of the humblest of them, his easy
bonhomie more than atoned for the multitude of his sins.
Van At Whitehall the gates had been closed from the first
TS ' to all but members of the Court, and those to whom
James granted the special right of entry. Horse-guards
and foot-guards were posted everywhere about White-
hall : sentries were doubled and redoubled, and orders
sent to all the chief ports to prevent the dispatch of
messages to the Duke of Monmouth or the Prince
of Orange, or to their sympathizers. Barillon received
special permission to send one letter to Louis. Orders
were also sent to the Lords Lieutenant of the Counties
to take steps to guard against any rising, should the
In the afternoon the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and
Lieutenants of the City of London sent to inquire of
the King's state, carrying also to the Duke a loyal
assurance of support in case of disturbance. The
Barillon. message gave great satisfaction to James.
In the course of the afternoon it became known that
Ailes- the illness had taken a favourable turn, and in their
bury * joy the whole town sang the praises of the men who
by their promptitude in bleeding him had been the
instruments, under Providence, of saving the King's life.
y an The Duke was able to announce to the foreign ministers
Citters. that the King was now out of danger.
Scar- In the evening of Monday the King's physicians
burgh a g ain met in consultation, and with a view to relieving
the pressure of ' the humours ' on his brain they ad-
ministered remedies to promote sneezing, along with
additional aperients. Noxious plasters were applied to
NARRATIVE OF THE LAST ILLNESS 31
the soles of his feet. A preparation of cowslip flowers
and spirit of Sal Ammoniac was designed to stimulate
and to strengthen the brain by the combined action
of the remedies. Soothing draughts were prescribed
to allay thirst and to stave off the scalding of the urine,
which they were aware must inevitably result from the
freedom with which they had made use of the blistering
properties of Cantharides. Nourishment was ordered
in the form of light broth and of ale made without
hops; and with this, therapeutic creativeness rested
from its labours on the first day.
Early on Tuesday morning another consultation was
held, at which no less than twelve physicians were
present. The success of their remedies seemed to
warrant them in pursuing treatment on the same lines
as they had already adopted. The King complained
of pain in the throat, and on examination a superficial
excoriation probably a result of the efforts made to chaillot
separate his teeth forcibly during the convulsionswas MS.
discerned, which was treated with an astringent and burgh
soothing gargle. MS.
The symptoms still seemed to indicate the likelihood Evelyn,
of a recurrence of convulsions, and to guard against Scar-
this the physicians prescribed an anti-spasmodic julep MS?
of Black Cherry Water, and other ingredients, which
at that time were highly esteemed in the treatment of Allen's
convulsive disorders. At the same time his jugular ync
veins were mulcted in a further ten ounces of blood.
The King's condition was by this time so far re- Ailes-
assuring that messengers were sent on Tuesday into ury '
every county to carry the happy news. To the Duke
it seemed imperative to allay at once all turbulent
aspirations that might else arise : for in spite of the
hopeful tidings, we find the Bishop of Ely staying Letter to
at the King's side throughout Tuesday night. So Roper.
32 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
matters continued on the whole favourably until
Scar- At their morning consultation the physicians were so
W ell pleased with their treatment, that they contented
themselves with a single modification of their reme-
diesa state of therapeutic inactivity most uncommon
in those days. At the afternoon consultation there were
already signs that all was not well : fresh remedies
were introduced to support the strength and to combat
exhaustion. In the evening His Majesty broke into
a cold sweat, and the physicians again declared that
his condition was dangerous. Fresh convulsions ac-
bur y- companied the relapse. Spirit of Human Skull was
CJtters. forthwith administered, a sure harbinger of impending
Luttrell. Every night a posse of physicians, six in all, had
watched by the King, but voluntary helpers augmented
Chester- this number, once even to fourteen. The Privy Council
Diary a ^ so deputed Chesterfield and two other of their number
R. North, to join the night vigil : while the Lord Keeper North
graph* was a ^ most constantly there in close touch with the
Examen. physicians. Lord North ill concealed his impatience
of the physicians, who prudently possessed their pro-
phetic souls in silence. To his demand for infallibility
they replied by vague talk of symptoms, and the means
by which they hoped to combat them. He petulantly
asked why they entertained the Council with such
discourses and avoided an opinion on the main issue.
' Upon which, after the Spanish way in difficult cases,
they did hazer il bove, that is, stared and said nothing '
a procedure which his lordship regarded as of sinister
Scar- On Wednesday night, as they watched, the physicians
were struck by the fact that each night the symptoms
had undergone some exacerbation, and this periodicity
NARRATIVE OF THE LAST ILLNESS 33
seemed to indicate to them that they had an intermittent
fever to deal with. The fact that some such inter-
mittent fever, attended by convulsions at the outset,
was, to the knowledge of some of them, prevalent
at the time in town, lent colour to their suspicions.
Accordingly, at the morning consultation on Thursday,
they communicated their opinion to their colleagues,
and a unanimous decision was arrived at to administer
the vaunted febrifuge, Peruvian Bark, and to persist
in its administration at appointed hours. Ferdinand Van
Mendez, personal physician to Queen Catharine, at Cltters>
first expressed some dissent, but his signature to the
prescription testifies to his subsequent capitulation :
both the King and the Queen supported him in his
To-day the physicians were able to meet the Council Examen.
with more hopeful faces. With manifest satisfaction
they told the Council that they were of the firm opinion
that the King had a fever. The announcement gave
no relief to Lord North, who asked with pained amaze-
ment, ' What they meant/ and ' Could anything be
worse ? ' But one of the physicians answered, ' We now
know what to do/ 'And what is that?' said North.
' To give the Cortex/ answered the physician ; and so
they did, but the recipient was already l nullis medicabilis
The London Gazette of Thursday morning, which had
gone to press after the formal meeting of the Privy
Council at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, and before the illness
assumed its gravest aspect, contained the following
'At the Council Chamber, Whitehall, the 4 th of London
February 1684 at five in the afternoon. Gazette,
1 The Lords of His Majesty's most Honorable Privy Feb - 2 ~5
Council have thought fit, for preventing false reports,
to make known that His Majesty, upon Monday morning
34 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
last, was seized with a violent fit, that gave great cause
to fear the issue of it : but after some hours, an amend-
ment appeared, which with the blessing of God being
improyed by the application of proper and seasonable
remedies, is now so advanced, that the physicians have
this day as well as yesterday given this account to the
Council, viz. That they conceive His Majesty to be in
a condition of safety, and that he will in a few days be
freed from his distemper.
The happy news was forthwith acclaimed with joy :
the church bells were rung, and preparations were made
to light bonfires in the streets. Gradually the truth
began to leak out, and joy was turned into anxious
Examen. sorrow. Several times during the day report had it
Barillon. that the King was dead> p rayers were sa i d j n a n t h e
churches, and in the Court chapels, in which the chap-
Evelyn, lains relieved one another every half quarter of an hour,
from the time the King began to be in danger till his
Van death. About four o'clock in the afternoon there was
a fresh access of fever with a recurrence of convulsions,
more violent than before : so much so that the doctors
were plunged into despair, and the Bishops were sum-
moned to the bedside. The Archbishop of Canterbury,
the Bishops of London, Durham, and Ely, together with
Bishop Ken, consecrated only a week before at Lambeth
Chapel Bishop of Bath and Wells, came to administer
spiritual consolation to the dying King. Ken 1 indeed
Hawkins, had been with the King since Wednesday morning,
and but for the short period of Hudleston's visit
waited at the royal bedside without intermission for
1 It was inevitable that Charles, the f prince among dissemblers ',
should be drawn to the man who has left as a watchword to
Wykehamists for all time, 'Let all thy converse be sincere/
A piquancy was added to the friendship by the* fact that Ken
had refused lodging to Nell Gwynne, who had been quartered
on his prebend's house during one of the King's visits to
NARRATIVE OF THE LAST ILLNESS 35
three whole days and nights, watching to suggest at
proper intervals pious and appropriate thoughts, as
befitted so serious an occasion. To the Archbishop
and to the Bishop of London the King turned a deaf Burnet.
ear: Ailesbury attributes the Archbishop's failure to his
timid manner and low voice, Burnet that of the Bishop
of London to his cold way of speaking and to the un-
popularity of his rigid protestantism at Court. These Letter to
Bishops, well knowing the King's liking for Ken, R P er -
desired him to see if the King would listen to him :
his voice was ' like to a nightingale for the sweetness of
it'. Ken read the prayers for the sick appointed byAiles-
the Common Prayer Book, and when he came to the bury *
place where the sick person is exhorted to make con- James's
fession of his sins he told the King that he was under Memotrs -
no obligation to confess, and merely asked him if he
was sorry for his sins. Charles said that he was sorry :
thereupon Ken pronounced the absolution, and asked
him 'if he pleased to receive the sacrament'. TheAiles-
King at first made no answer, but as Ken earnestly bury<
repeated his request the King thanked him, and answered Barillon.
that there was time enough yet to consider that, and
that he would think of it.
For a while let us shift the scene. At noon tidings
had reached the French ambassador, Barillon, that the
physicians despaired of the King's life, and that they
did not think he could live through the coming night.
At once he betook himself to Whitehall, and to the
antechamber of the King's bedroom, to which James
had given orders that he should be admitted at any
time. As soon as he arrived the Duke of York said
to him, ' The physicians think the King is in very grave
danger: I beg you will assure your master he will
always find in me a loyal and grateful servant.' James
had from the first remained almost unceasingly at his
36 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
brother's side: occasionally he came into the ante-
chamber to give orders as to the state of affairs in
town. Amid his overwhelming sorrow he found time
and thought to devote to the exclusion of the Duke of
Monmouth and the Prince of Orange, and to obtain the
feeble signature of his dying brother to a lease of the
Evelyn. Excise. This latter was at best a shady transaction, and
though ' the major part of the Judges (but as some think
not the best lawyers) pronounced it legal, four dissented '.
Barillon. The Duke several times invited Barillon into the
King's bedchamber, talked with him about the state of
affairs in town, saying that he had received assurances
of support from all sides, and that he would be pro-
claimed king without any active opposition, as soon as
Charles was dead.
At five o'clock Barillon withdrew to the apartments
of the Duchess of Portsmouth : he found her in the
depths of anguish at the hopeless verdict of the
physicians. Grief 1 and the immediate prospect of
1 Macaulay thinks that the grief of the Duchess was not wholly
selfish. It is difficult to believe this of a woman who had
habitually sold the secrets of her lover to the King of the land
of her birth. During the long years she spent in England her
eyes were always set on Paris. A tabouret at the French Court
was to her the be-all and end-all of existence. She well knew, as
events were quick to prove, that, Charles dead, she could place no
reliance on James: to the English nation she was the Scarlet
Woman. Charles's conversion was a bold bid to gain the eternal
gratitude of Louis. Barillon's dispatches unequivocally state her
anxiety. She was accustomed to play at high stakes : she played
now and won. Louis stood between her and her creditors for life.
The Catholics resented the fact that Charles's conversion should
have been effected by a notorious prostitute, and endeavoured to
identify it with other names. The Somers Broadside makes
P. M. a C. F. the moving spirit. In 1856 Macaulay hazarded the
guess that these initials designated Pere Mansuete, a Cordelier
Friar. He clearly did not know that in 1685 Anthony Wood
had anticipated his solution. He had made a marginal note to
an extant Somers Broadside, ' P. . . M. a Capuchin Fryer.'
NARRATIVE OF THE LAST ILLNESS 37
a great loss did not hinder her from drawing Barillon
into her closet and saying : ' Mr. Ambassador, I am
going to tell you the greatest secret in the world, and
if it were known I should lose my head. At the bottom
of his heart the King is a Catholic, but he is sur-
rounded by Protestant bishops, and no one tells him of
his situation, or speaks to him of God. I cannot any
longer enter his room with decency : besides, the Queen
is almost always there. The Duke of York's thoughts
are taken up with his own affairs, and they are too
important to allow him to take the care he should of
the conscience of the King. Go and tell him that
I have conjured you to remind him to think what can
be done to save the King's soul : he is master of the
King's room, and can make whomsoever he wishes
withdraw. Lose no time, for if there be ever so little
delay it will be too late ! '
Barillon returned instantly to the Duke of York.
Queen Catherine had just quitted the King's bedside in
a swoon, and the physicians had improved the occasion
by bleeding her. The Duke had followed the fainting
Queen to her apartments, which were in communica-
tion with the King's room: here Barillon found him,
and told him what the Duchess of Portsmouth had said.
The Duke seemed as though roused from a dream.
'You are right,' said he, 'there is no time to lose:
I would rather risk everything than not do my duty
on this occasion.' Barillon remained in the Queen's
apartments, while James returned to the King.
Soon after six o'clock, on a pretext of again visiting
the Queen, James came back and told Barillon he had
spoken to the King. He said that he had found him
resolute against receiving the sacrament, which the
Protestant Bishops were urging him to receive, to their
exceeding surprise. Some of them, he said, were sure
38 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
to remain continuously in the King's room, unless he
could find some excuse to make every one withdraw,
so that he might talk freely to the King his brother,
and induce him to make a formal abjuration of heresy,
and confess himself to a Catholic priest.
The difficulty of effecting this without exciting suspi-
cion was great. The Duke and Barillon laid their
heads together to accomplish a project that commended
itself equally to both of them, but for very different
reasons. The first proposition, that the King's bed-
chamber should be cleared of the company, on the
pretext that the French ambassador had some private
communication from Louis to Charles, came from
James. Barillon was ready to consent, but pointed out
that the sacerdotal seance must needs far exceed the
time needed to convey a message, and would tend to
James next suggested that the Queen should be
brought, as though to take a last farewell, and to ask
pardon of her lord if she had ever disobeyed him ; and
to prolong the time, James was ready to repeat the
scene in his own person. Barillon had learnt in the
school of experience that the fewer the accomplices
the more successful the plot, so they agreed that the
Duke should speak openly to his brother, but in so
low a voice that no one should hear. They would then
only imagine that the Duke was consulting the King
on affairs of state, and ascertaining his wishes as to
what he would have done in case of his death.
Then the Duke and Barillon returned to the King's
bedchamber, when the Duke, ordering the bystanders
out of earshot, stooped down and whispered into the
King's ear. Though Barillon was in the room he did
not hear what the Duke said : still less the company,
some twenty in number, for they had retired into the
NARRATIVE OF THE LAST ILLNESS 39
antechamber, leaving the door open. The King was
heard to say from time to time, l Yes, with all my heart/
In his extreme weakness, he did not always catch the
Duke's low voice, and had to ask him to repeat his
words. He was anxious lest James's action should lead Chaillot
him into subsequent trouble, but the Duke expressed
himself ready to run all risks in the sacred cause. The
whole interview between the brothers lasted about a
quarter of an hour.
The Duke of York then left the bedchamber, as
though to go to the Queen's apartments, taking Barillon
with him. ' The King has consented/ said James, ' to
my bringing him a priest : I dare not bring him any of
the Duchess's, as they are too well known : send
quickly and seek one/ Barillon replied that he would
do so with pleasure, but that it would mean loss of time,
whereas the Queen's priests he had just seen in a closet
next to her chamber. The Duke replied, ' You are
right/ At the same moment, seeing the Count of
Castelmelhor, he addressed himself to him, and found
him all zeal to help, undertaking himself to speak to the
Queen at once. Quickly returning, the Count said to
Barillon, ' Though I were to risk my life in this business,
I would gladly do it : but I know none of the Queen's
priests who understands English, and can speak it/
All the Queen's priests were Portuguese, and those of Chaillot
the Duchess of York Italian. MS -
On this the Duke and Barillon decided to send to the
Venetian Resident's. But as time was pressing, the
Count went first to the room where the Queen's priests
were, and found there among them a Scotch priest, one
John Hudleston. He had been instrumental in saving
Charles from his pursuers during his flight to the
sea-coast after the battle of Worcester, at Molesey,
where he was residing as tutor in Whitgrave's house-
4 o THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
London hold. For this service Hudleston had been exempted
Nov*2i ky name from the most severe Acts of Parliament
1678. directed against the priests, whereas many of them had
Ch|illot been Driven to flee the country. Castelmelhor took
care to see that Hudleston was duly instructed in what
he should say to the King on so serious an occasion.
Disguised in a wig and cassock, Hudleston was led
by Castelmelhor to the door of an apartment which com-
municated by a small flight of steps with the King's
Hudle- bedchamber. This was between seven and eight
^Brief ' c l c k m tne evening. Here he was ordered to wait,
Account, and on no account whatever to stir thence. In the
haste Hudleston had not had time to bring along with
him the Holy Sacrament of the Altar, and was greatly
exercised in mind how to procure it. Divine Providence,
however, so ordered it that Father Bento de Lemoz,
one of the Queen's Portuguese priests, came, and,
learning his difficulty, offered himself to go to St. James's
and bring the most Holy Sacrament along with him.
Higgons. The priest quickly procured the Sacrament, as some say
from the chapel at Somerset House, and brought it to
Meantime Barillon had informed the Duke that all
was in readiness: James thereupon sent Chiffins to
Hudleston, with orders to bring him as soon as a
summons came from himself. Then in a loud voice he
said, ' Gentlemen, the King wishes everybody to retire,
except the Earls of Bath and of Feversham.' The
former was Groom of the Stole, while the latter was
Chamberlain to Queen Catherine; in later years he
earned the sobriquet of l King Dowager '. The phy-
sicians withdrew into a closet and the door was shut
Chaillot Charles had desired James to stay alone with
MS - Hudleston, and to dismiss every one else, but the Duke
NARRATIVE OF THE LAST ILLNESS 41
declined consent. Seeing that the King was now
actually sinking, the decision, as events proved, was
wise. The Lords, Bishops, and others withdrew into Barillon.
the antechamber adjoining the bedroom, and the Duke | om ^ rs
of York latched the door behind them. side.
The Duke now let in Hudleston by a secret door at chaillot
the right side of the bed. As soon as the King saw MS>
him he cried out, ' You that saved my body is now come
to save my soul.' Hudleston approached the bed and Ailes-
knelt down to present the King with such service as he bur y-
could, for the honour of God and the eternal salvation
of the King's soul. Charles then declared : That he
desired .to die in the faith and communion of thcTRoTy
Roman Catholic_Cfiurch : That he was most heartily
sorry for all the sins of his past life, and particularly
for having deferred his reconciliation so long: That
through the merits of Christ's Passion he hoped for
salvation : That he was in charity with all the world :
That he pardoned his enemies with all his heart, and
desired pardon of all whom he had offended in any
way; and that, if God were pleased to spare his life
awhile, he would amend it, and detest all sin.
Hudleston next advised His Majesty of the benefit
and necessity of the sacrament of penance, and the
King most willingly assented, making confession of his
life without reserve and with sincere contrition. To
show still further that his repentance was not mere
remorse, Hudleston desired him to repeat along with
him the following short act of contrition : ' O my Lord
God, with my whole heart and soul I detest all the sins
of my life past for the love of Thee, whom I love above
all things, and I firmly purpose by Thy Holy Grace
never to offend Thee more, Amen, Sweet Jesus, Amen.
Into Thy hands, Sweet Jesus, I commend my soul.
Mercy, Sweet Jesus, Mercy.' Charles pronounced
42 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
James's these words in a clear, audible voice, frequently lifting
up his hands, and Hudleston, admitting his sacramental
penance, gave him absolution. He then asked His
Majesty if he would accept the other sacraments of
the Church. Charles replied that he desired to partake
of all that would help and succour a Catholic Christian
in his condition. Hudleston next asked him if he
would receive the precious body and blood of our dear
Saviour Jesus Christ in the most Holy Sacrament of the
Eucharist. The answer came, * If I am jvorthy, pray
fail not to let me have it.' The Host had not yet
been brought, so Hudleston asked permission to
proceed to the Sacrament of extreme unction : the King
replied, ' With all my heart/ and he ' anoyled ' him.
Hudleston was now called to the door, where Father
Bento de Lemoz handed him the Sacrament he had
brought. Then returning to the King, he entreated
him to prepare himself to receive it. The King raised
himself up and said, ' Let me meet my Heavenly Father
in a better posture than lying on my bed/ Hudleston
humbly begged him to repose himself, saying that God
Almighty, who saw his heart, would accept his good
intention. The King again recited with Hudleston the
previous act of contrition, and received the holy sacra-
ment for his viaticum, with the utmost devoutness.
After this communion, Hudleston read the prayers
termed 'the Recommendation of the SouP, appointed
by the Catholic Church for the dying. The act of
Contrition was recited a third time at the King's request,
and when it was finished, Hudleston, for his last spiritual
encouragement, said, ' Your Majesty hath now received
the comfort and benefit of all the sacraments that a
good Christian, ready to depart out of the world, can
have or desire. Now it only rests, that you think upon
the death and passion of our dear Saviour Jesus Christ,
NARRATIVE OF THE LAST ILLNESS 43
of which I present unto you this figure/ Then holding
up a crucifix before the King's eyes, he implored him,
' Lift up therefore the eyes of your soul, and represent
to yourself your sweet Saviour here crucified, bowing
down His head to kiss you : His arms stretched out to
embrace you : His body and members all bloody and
pale with death to redeem you. And as you see Him
dead and fixed upon the Cross for your redemption,
so have His remembrance fixed and fresh in your heart.
Beseech Him with all humility, that His most precious $ \
blood may not be shed in vain for you ; and that it
will please Him, by the merits of His bitter death and
passion to pardon and forgive you all your offences;
and finally to receive your soul into His blessed hands ;
and when it shall please Him to take it out of this
transitory world, to grant you a joyful resurrection,
and an eternal crown of glory in the next. In the name
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Hudleston having recommended His Majesty with all
his powers of devotion to the divine mercy and pro-
tection, withdrew from the bedchamber, and was no
more seen. The whole ceremony had occupied about
three-quarters of an hour. While it was in progress MS.
significant glances were exchanged among those waiting
in the antechamber, but nothing was said except in
whispers. The presence of the Earls of Bath and
Feversham, both of whom were Protestants, did some-
thing to allay the apprehension of the Bishops and
others. But the surreptitious coming and going did not
escape the notice of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting and
of the priests, and human nature could ill bear the
concealment of such a secret in its bosom.
The ceremony over, the King seemed to rally his
strength, and hopes were entertained that His Majesty
44 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
was to be miraculously rescued from death. The
Scar- physicians, however, declared that there was no real
M U s gh betterment, and that he could hardly live through the
night. They had realized early in the afternoon that
his failing strength called for the exhibition of powerful
remedies, to support the heart. The famous Raleigh's
Antidote, the virtue of which resided more in the multi-
tude of its ingredients than in their potency, had already
been brought into action, and to leave no stone unturned
superstition was summoned to the aid of science in
the exhibition of powdered Goa stone. No less than
fourteen eminent physicians breathed a benediction on
this unholy alliance.
As evening came on signs were not wanting that
the whole gamut of pharmacy had been exhausted.
Peruvian Bark was given in greater quantity, Sal
Ammoniac with greater frequency : and later, the
Oriental Bezoar stone, from its normal habitat in the
stomach of an eastern goat, was transferred to its last
resting-place in that of the King.
Barillon. Through the weary watches of Thursday night
Charles's mind remained clear and undimmed : nothing
Stuart in life became him as the leaving of it. With calm
Papers, composure he looked approaching death in the eyes.
His courage and unconcern amazed all who had known
Letter his soft voluptuous nature. In his direst distress he
) Roper. a u owe( j tnat ne was su ffe r ing, but thanked God that
he did so patiently. Now and then he would seem
to long for death to come quickly, and with thoughtful
courtesy asked pardon of those around him for taking
Scar- so long a-dying. He hoped that his work in this world
was over > anc ^ tna t he would soon pass to another and
better. He showed the greatest affection and tender-
ness to his brother James, who knelt by his bedside
kissing his hand, seemingly overwhelmed with an
NARRATIVE OF THE LAST ILLNESS 45
anguish of sorrow. Charles thanked James for having
always been the best of brothers and friends, and asked
pardon for any hardship he might have inflicted on
him from time to time, and for the risks of fortune
he had run on his account. He gave him his breeches Evelyn,
and keys, and told him that he now freely left him
all, and begged God to give him a prosperous reign.
About midnight Thursday Queen Catherine came Van
to the bedside, and Charles spoke most tenderly to ^
her. She was so overwhelmed with consternation and Memoirs.
grief at the spectacle of her dying husband, that she
fainted away several times, and was carried to her bed,
where she was kept at the bidding of her physician.
Later she sent a message by the Marquis of Halifax Van
to ask pardon of Charles, if ever in her life she had Cltters -
offended him. ' Alas ! poor woman ! ' said he, ' she beg
my pardon ! I beg hers with all my heart/
The Duchess of York stood by the bedside, and, like Letter to
her husband, showed deep sorrow at their impending open
Charles twice recommended the Duchess of Ports- Barillon.
mouth to James, and entreated him not to let poor
Nell Gwynne starve. Then he commended his natural Van
children to James. The Dukes of Grafton, Southampton, Cltters -
Northumberland, St. Albans, and Richmond were all
there. The Duke of Monmouth was absent, and his
name did not even pass his father's lips : his ill-concealed
ambition to supplant his uncle in the succession to the
crown forbade its mention.
Charles blessed his children one by one, drawing Chester-
them down to him on the bed. Then the Bishops fieldt
besought him, as the Lord's anointed and the father
of his country, to bless them also and all those that
were by, and in them the whole body of his subjects.
Whereupon all in the room, which was now full, fell
46 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
down upon their knees, and the King raised himself
in bed, and asking pardon if he had neglected anything,
or acted contrary to the best rules of good government,
pronounced a solemn blessing on them all. So moving
was the scene, that scarce an eye was dry.
Letter The Bishops remained by the bedside of the dying
to Roper. man to t h e enc | Ken, at thejj. j o j nt re quest, spoke for
them all, they assisting only with prayers and pious
Somers ejaculations, as they saw occasion. The King joined
ide ad heartily in the prayers. Ken desired him to remem-
ber his end, and to endeavour to make a good one,
Charles said that he had thought of it, and hoped he
Hawkins, had made his peace with God. Ken repeatedly urged
him to receive the sacrament, but he persistently de-
Barillon. At six o'clock, at the first glimmering of dawn, Charles
Chaillot as k e( j them to draw back the curtains of his bed and
to open the windows, so that he might gladden his
dying eyes for the last time with the light of the rising
sun. Then he asked that an eight-day clock in his
room might be wound, for to-day was the day, else
it would run down.
Scar- At seven o'clock he was seized with urgent breathless-
jjjg gh ness, that compelled him to sit upright in bed. Now and
again its stress abated for a while, but only to come
again. The physicians bled him again to twelve ounces,
but their efforts were ineffectual. As a last resource
they plied him with their most active heart tonics.
Aprice. At half-past eight his speech began to fail: at ten
Luttrell. o'clock he lay unconscious and dying; and shortly*
Gazette before noon on Friday the sixth of February he expired
Feb. 5-9. calmly without any return of convulsions.
Letter to On Friday morning the churches were thronged with
Roper, people, come there to pray for the King, all in tears
and with dejected looks, so that it was difficult to get
NARRATIVE OF THE LAST ILLNESS 47
through the service. Outside the Church and in the
streets sorrow was to be seen in every face ; the sense
of loss was general; poor as well as rich paid their
tribute to his memory: 'there was scarce a servant
maid betwixt White Chapell and Westminster, who was Higgons.
not in black crape, the Woman's mourning at this time,
upon this occasion/
The London Gazette of February 9 contained the
following order for general mourning:
By HENRY DUKE OF NORFOLK, EARL MARSHAL
Whereas His Majesty hath been pleased to command
me to take care that the present mourning may be
performed with that decency that becomes so great
an occasion: This is therefore to inform all persons
concerned, that 'tis expected they put themselves into
the deepest mourning that is possible: (Long Cloaks
only excepted), And that as well all Lords, as Privy
Councillors, and Officers of His Late Majesty's House-
hold do cover their coaches and chairs and clothe their
Livery Servants with black cloth ; and that none presume
to use any varnish'd or bullion nails to be seen on their
coaches or chairs : except his Majesty, the Queen
Consort, Queen Dowager and their Royal Highnesses.
Given under my hand this ninth day of February
1684. In the first year of His Majesty's reign, King
James the Second, over England, etc.
Louis at once sent through Barillon private assurance Louis to
to James of his sorrow and sympathy, and publicly n
testified the same by prohibiting in his Court the amuse-
ment of assemblies and operas, and by an order of
mourning to be worn ' as long as the deceased King
wore it for the death of the late Queen ', his consort.
So soon as the King was dead, Ailesbury as first Ailes-
Gentleman of the Bedchamber offered himself for the bury '
duty of watching the body, and of ordering all that was
needful. This sad duty he fulfilled in floods of tears.
48 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
He had been present at the King's death, having
returned to his bedside at ten o'clock in the morning
after a brief period of repose.
Barillon. James too had at once withdrawn to give vent to
his sorrow in the privacy of his own chamber. A
Privy quarter of an hour later he met the Privy Council in
Records. tne Council-chamber, and after expressing in a few
words his deep sorrow at the death of his brother,
addressed them in a memorable, but by him ill-
remembered, speech of fervent devotion to the estab-
lished government both in Church and State. The
Council were then sworn, and a Proclamation was
ordered to be published, confirming all officials in
their present posts. Then the King rose from his
seat at the head of the board, and, worn out with
Evelyn, fatigue and sorrow, retired to his bedchamber, accom-
panied by the Council to the door. Then, returning
to the Council-chamber, they prepared the order for the
Privy Proclamation according to precedent. An influential
Records, committee of Lords of the Privy Council was appointed
' to consider of the disposall of the late King's Body '.
It was further ordered 'that the Vice-Chamberlain of
His Majesty's Household be then present with their
Lords, and that their Lords do send for such Persons
and Bookes of Presidents that they may judge to their
better information herein, and report their opinion
thereupon to his Majesty, and that in order thereunto
their Lords do meet in % the Council Chamber at Six
of ye Clock this evening.'
Between three and four o'clock on Friday afternoon
James's accession was publicly acclaimed without any
Barillon. commotion. The gladness, however, was tempered with
grief for the late King. After the Proclamation the
Council and others went to the King's bedchamber to
Evelyn, salute the King and Queen. James had just risen from
NARRATIVE OF THE LAST ILLNESS 49
his bed, and was in his undress. Queen Mary was still
in bed, but put out her hand to be kissed ; signs of her
grief were evident in her face. The Council also paid
a visit of condolence to the Queen Dowager in her
bedchamber. Here later she received the foreign
envoys 'on a bed of mourning, the whole chamber,
cieling and floor hung with black, and tapers were
lighted, so as nothing could be more lugubrous and
On Saturday the King's body was opened by the Van
physicians. They noted the fullness of the veins and Citters -
arteries on the surface of the brain. No ruptured Scar-
vessel was detected, though the substance of the brain ^| gh
was examined. Lower, an avowed Whig, was present Burnet.
at the autopsy, as he had been in the sick-room : his
accurate anatomical descriptions formed the most valu-
able portion of Willis's treatise De Cerebro. They
were struck with the abundance of serous fluid in the Van
ventricles and in the substance of the brain. The right ltt
lung and pleura were firmly adherent to the chest-wall
from inflammation of long standing. Probably this may
be referred to the illness mentioned by Povy to Pepys, Pepys,
when some thought the King was in a consumption. ^^ '
The heart was found to be large and firm, that is to Scar-
say, in modern medical parlance, it had undergone jjjg gh
hypertrophy, but was otherwise free from disease. No
abnormality was found in the abdomen, but it was
noted that the liver, spleen, and kidneys were full of
After the autopsy the body was embalmed. A cast Van
of the face was taken, presumably after the autopsy 1 . tters -
and embalming. This was customary at the death of bury,
a king or queen or of other important persons. Casts
were taken in plaster, after the face had been smeared
with pomatum. This was the mould, from which a
50 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
Pepys, wax-mask was prepared. This mask formed the face
1669. 10 ' ^ tne e ^y dressed in the dead man's clothes, that
was carried on the bier in the funeral procession, and
Bradley, afterwards deposited on the tomb. The effigy of King
Charles II stood for over a century above the vault in
which he was buried, and may still be seen in a chamber
in Westminster 'Abbey, above the Islip Chapel. The
robes were renewed in the eighteenth century, and
trimmed with real point de rose lace.
Dugdale. On Tuesday, February 10, the Privy Council met in
the evening to decide whether the King's body should
be deposited forthwith in the Princes' Chamber; and
on the same day John Dugdale, Windsor Herald, in a
letter written from London to Sir William Dugdale,
Garter King of Arms, complains that they have had no
instructions about the funeral : ' we know nothing, only
discourse is that it will be exceeding private, not so
much as a footman of ye late King's put in mourning.'
Anthony On Thursday night, February 12, the King's body was
carried to the Princes' Chamber at Westminster, and
there it lay in state till Saturday evening, amid illumina-
James's tions and solemn mourning. On February 13 Van Citters
emotrs. re p Orte( j to fa Q Hague that the funeral ceremonies would
not be very great.
London The funeral was solemnized on Saturday evening after
Feb^S- dark - The body was carried from the Painted Chamber
16. in Westminster Palace to the Abbey Church. The coffin,
coverec * by a purple velvet pall, was borne by gentlemen
of the Privy Chamber, with six Earls supporting the
pall. The procession was headed by the servants of
the nobility, of their Royal Highnesses, of the King
and Queen, the Dowager Queen, and the late King.
After them followed the Barons, Bishops, and others of
the nobility in strict order of precedence. The chief
mourner, in the absence of King James, was His Royal
EFFIGY OF KING CHARLES II
Now in Westminster Abbey
NARRATIVE OF THE LAST ILLNESS 51
Highness Prince George of Denmark, to whom Lord
Cornbury was train-bearer. The Dukes of Somerset
and Beaufort, wearing the collars of the Garter, as did
the other Garter Knights who were present, acted as
supporters to Prince George, while sixteen Earls were
his assistants. One of the Kings of Arms carried the
crown and cushion, the rest of the Officers of Arms
attending and directing the ceremony. His Majesty's
band of Gentlemen Pensioners and the Yeomen of the
Guard brought up the rear. At the entrance to the
Abbey the Dean and Prebendaries of Westminster,
attended by the choir, met the body and led the way
to the Chapel of King Henry VII, where the body
was interred ' in a new vault at the end of the south West-
aisle'. After the service was over, the officers of His
Majesty's Household broke their staves over the grave, Register
and ' the Royal style was proclaimed by another of the Burials.
King of Arms according to custom '. For nearly two
centuries no name served to identify the tomb. Post-
humous remembrance was no part of the Stuart
MS. ACCOUNT OF THE DEATH OF
KING CHARLES II
BY SIR CHARLES SCARBURGH, M.D., F.R.C.P.
WITH A BRIEF MEMOIR
SIR CHARLES SCARBURGH, M.A. CANTAB., M.D. OXON.,
CHARLES SCARBURGH was born in 1616 in London, in
the parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. He was educated
at St. Paul's School and Caius College, Cambridge.
He became a Fellow of his college, and took pupils,
but devoted all his spare time to mathematics and medi-
cine. At Cambridge he lectured on Oughtred's Clavis
Mathematicus. His warm espousal of the Royalist
cause in the civil wars led to the loss of his fellowship
and of his library of books. Thence he migrated to
Oxford and entered Merton College, where Harvey
was then Warden. Here a friendship, that ended only
with Harvey's death, sprang up between them. Scar-
burgh was able to assist him materially in the work de
Generatione Animalium on which he was then engaged.
In 1646 he was admitted a Doctor of Medicine at
Soon after this Scarburgh came to London, and in
1648 was first enrolled in the College of Physicians of
London, where he subsequently held many official posts,
but never became President. He was one of the original
Fellows of the Royal Society.
In 1652 we catch a glimpse of him again, begging
Evelyn to give the Tables of Veins and Arteries which
Evelyn had acquired at Padua from Dr. Jo. Athelsteinus
SIR CHARLES SCARBURGH WITH EDWARD ARRIS
From a water-colour copy, in the Royal College of Physicians, of the
portrait in the Hall of the Barbers' Company
MEMOIR OF SCARBURGH 53
Leonaenas in 1646 to the College of Physicians, ' pre-
tending/ as Evelyn says, 'he would not only reade
upon them, but celebrate my curiositie as being the first
who caused them to be compleated in that manner, and
with that cost/ The physician misread his man, and
the College acquired only the loan of them during their
anatomical lectures, whereas later they were presented
to the Royal Society, who ordered them to be engraved.
For some years Scarburgh lectured on Anatomy at
the Surgeons* Hall. Here his portrait may still be seen
along with that of Arris. Pennant gave the following
description of it : ' He is dressed in the red gown, hood
and cap of a doctor of physic, and is in the act of
speaking: one hand on his breast, the other a little
stretched out. On the left is another figure, the demon-
strating surgeon dressed in the livery gown of the city
of London : whose business it was to handle and show
the parts of the dissected bodies. Accordingly he holds
up the arm of a dead body, placed on a table, partly
covered with a sheet with the sternum naked and laid
bare, and the pectoral muscles appearing/ The portrait
was painted to the order of the Company by Greenbury
in 1651, as a mark of their regard for Scarburgh.
Beneath the portrait is the following inscription :
Haec tibi Scarburgi Arrisius queis spiritus intus
Corporis humani nobile versat opus.
Ille Opifex rerum tibi rerum arcana reclusit,
Et Numen verbis iussit inesse tuis.
Ille Dator rerum tibi res indulsit opimas,
Atque animam indultas qui bene donet opes.
Alter erit quisquis magna haec exempla sequetur,
Alterutri vestrum nemo secundus erit.
In 1656 Scarburgh succeeded Harvey as Lumleian
Lecturer at the College of Physicians. He attended him
54 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
in his last illness in 1657, and a scandalous rumour got
abroad that at Harvey's request he had given him his
quietus in a draught of opium. Harvey bequeathed
him in his will his velvet gown and surgical instruments,
and desired him to look over his books and papers, and
to present such as he thought fit to the College.
In 1658 Scarburgh was deputed by the President to
greet the Marquis of Dorchester in a Latin speech on
his admission to the Fellowship of the College. In
1660 Scarburgh dined with Pepys in his cabin aboard
ship, where they were awaiting Charles's landing in
England* Pepys reminded him how he had heard him
say, ' that children do, in every day's experience, look
several ways with both their eyes, till custom teaches
them otherwise. And that we do now see with but one
eye, our eyes looking in parallel lines.'
In 1663 we again find him in the company of Pepys
at a banquet at the Surgeons' Hall. ' Dr. Scarborough
took some friends of his, and I went with them, to see
the body of a lusty fellow, a seaman, that was hanged
for a robbery. It seems one Dillon, of a good family,
was, after much endeavour to have saved him, hanged
with a silken haltar this Sessions, (of his own preparing,)
not for honour only, but it being soft and sleek it do slip
close and kill, that it strangles presently : whereas a stiff
one do not come so close together, and so the party may
live the longer before killed. But all the Doctors at
table conclude, that there is no pain at all in hanging,
for that it do stop the circulation of the blood ; and so
stops all sense and motion in an instant.'
Scarburgh was appointed physician to Charles II, and
in 1669 was knighted by him. This was not his only
Court appointment, for he was subsequently personal
physician to James II, to Prince George of Denmark,
to William III and to his Queen Mary.
MEMOIR OF SCARBURGH 55
Scarburgh was in wide request as a physician. His
name frequently appears in contemporary literature.
Anthony Wood consulted him on several occasions.
The poet Waller consulted him for dropsy in his legs.
Scarburgh's prognosis was scarcely reassuring : ' Sir/
said he, 'your blood will run no longer' (Johnson's
Life of Waller}. Abraham Cowley wrote the following
lines on Scarburgh, which suggest that he owed more
to Scarburgh's friendship than to his physic :
Some hours at least on thy own pleasures spend,
Since the whole stock may soon exhausted be
Bestow J t not all in charitie.
Let Nature and let Art do what they please,
When all is done, Life 's an incurable disease.
After Cowley's death in 1667 Scarburgh requited his
friend's verse with 'An Elegy upon Mr. Abraham
Scarburgh, among his many other pursuits, was no
mean naturalist. He sent a great northern diver and
an eagle, taken in Ireland, to Sir Thomas Browne.
The eagle made its home for two years in the sacred
precincts of the College of Physicians in Warwick
He was a noted bibliophile, and owned a very valu-
able library of mathematical works and Greek classics.
Evelyn says that the books were to have been trans-
ferred en bloc to King William's library at St. James's
Palace, but that the project fell through owing to the
premature death of Queen Mary in 1694, and the library
was disposed of piecemeal in 1695.
In 1682 Scarburgh wellnigh lost his life in the well-
known wreck of the Gloucester in Yarmouth Roads,
when James was accused of abandoning all but his
dogs and his priests to their fate. The Duke's dog
56 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
Mumper is said to have struggled with Sir Charles
for a plank. Judging from the event, the physician
seems to have found means of disposing of the dog.
In 1685 Scarburgh acted as chief physician through-
out the last illness of Charles II. His account in Latin
will be found in the following pages.
From 1685 to 1687 ne was member of Parliament for
Camelford; but his parliamentary duties were not so
exacting as to withdraw him from the pursuit of his
Death came to this man of many parts in 1694. He
was buried at Canford, in Middlesex, and a marble
monument on the north side of the chancel bears a
Latin inscription to his memory.
The works that survived him include the Syllabus
Musculorum ; a Treatise on Trigonometry ; a Com-
pendium of Lily's Grammar ; the Elegy upon Abraham
Cowley; and a posthumous edition by his son of an
English translation of Euclid's Elements, with notes.
FEB. 2, 1684.
Ad octavam praecise horam Rex Serenissimus
Carolus II lecto recens relicto, dum in cubiculo leniter
inambulabat, inordinatum quendam in cerebro sensit
motum, cui mox aphonia motusque convulsivi vehe-
Aderant forte tune ex Medicis Regiis omnino duo,
qui ut tanto Regum Optimi periculo mature prospi-
cerent, venam ei in brachio dextro aperierunt, sangui-
nisque eduxerunt uncias circiter sedecem. Interim et
ceteri Medici per celerrimos nuncios advocati, in Regis
subsidium convolarunt ; habitoque inter se Consilio,
MANUSCRIPT OF SCARBURGH 57
omnem navarunt Operam, ut periclitanti Majestati Sup-
petias ferrent praesentaneas.
Praescripserunt 1 nimirum, ut humeris applicarentur
Cucurbitulae tres, eisque mox succederet Scarificatio
satis profunda, idque majoris revulsionis fortiorisque
gratia, quo pacto extractae sunt Sanguinis gviij circiter.
Intra pauca exinde temporis momenta, ut Ventriculus
ab omni impuritate vindicaretur, eodemque motu uni-
versum genus nervorum quicquid sibi molestum erat,
elideret; Vomitorium propinarunt, nempe Infusionis
Croci metallorum 2 in vino albo facti sesquiunciam, cujus
exigua tantum parte admissa, ne conatus omnino irritus
esset, addiderunt Salis vitrioli albi drachmam unam in
Aq. Paeoniae 3 compos, solutam.
Post paulo exhibuerunt etiam Pilularum ex duobus
drachmam unam, pariter in Aq. Paeoniae solut. hocque
ut humores expeditius per inferiora amandarentur.
Atque ut Cathartici illius operatio promoveretur,
superinjecerunt Enema in hunc modum confectum
R. Decoct, commun. pro Clyster.* Ibj
Spec. hier. pier. 5 gj
Syr. e. Spin. Cervin. sij
Salis gem. 3ss
Infus. Croc, metall. 5ij
1 The composition and ingredients of the various preparations
are for the most part to be found in the Pharmacopoeia Londinensis,
1677. Only su ch details are given in the notes as are needed to
make the account intelligible.
2 Infusio Croci Metallorum : prepared from Sulphuret of Anti-
mony and Nitre. Crocus on account of its colour.
3 A complex antispasmodic mixture.
4 A common vehicle for drugs administered by the bowel. The
ingredients were Mallow Leaves, Violets, Pellitory, Beet, Herb
Mercurial, Camomile Flowers, Fennel Seeds, Linseed, Plain
5 Cinnamon, Zedoaria, Asarum, Cardamom Seeds, Saffron,
Cochineal, Aloes. Spec, is the abbreviation of Species.
5 8 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
Haecque omnia ordinabantur Consilio Medicorum :
Car. Scarburgh C. Frazier
Ed. Dickenson Tho. Short
Ric. Lower Edm. King
Post horam unam vel alteram repetebant Clysterem,
additis Syr. de Sp. Cervini gij, Vini Emetic. 1 giiij, Salis
His autem tarde operantibus, eundem adhuc scopum
rursum ferire contendunt aliis etiam purgantibus in hunc
R. Pil. 2 ex duobus 3ij. dissolv. in Aq. Paeon, comp.
Biij unde Rex confestim sumebat I], reliquo in usus
Praeterea ut nullum lapidem immotum relinquerent,
applicata etiam fuerunt Epispastica universa Capiti,
derasis prius Capillis.
Car. Scarburgh F. Mendes
Thos. Witherly Rich. Lower
Ed. Dickenson Tho. Short
G. Charleton Edm. King
Sub vesper[ ]m 3 ut perseverarent in Intentione
humores a Capite continenter avertendi et abducendi,
simulque ut oppresso Cerebro vires adderent, sequens
R. Spec. Hier. pier. gj
Aq. Paeon, comp. Ibj
Bryon. 4 comp. Ibss
M. f. Tinctura
1 Antimonial Wine.
2 Colocynth, Scammony, Oil of Cloves, Syrup of Buckthorn.
8 In the MS. there is no trace of the letter omitted in vesper[ ]m :
probably Scarburgh halted between vesperum and vesperem, and
meant to fill it in after having ascertained the approved form.
4 Bryony reputed to be emetic, purgative, and diuretic.
MANUSCRIPT OF SCARBURGH 59
Cujus cap. quantum et quoties Medicis adstantibus
Eodem tempore ad excitandam Sternutationem Pulvis
erat factus e radicibus Hellebor. albi 3j. in promptu ser-
vandus, ut, quoties ex usu sit, Regis naribus admoveatur.
Confectus etiam fuit (Cerebri invigorandi gratia) alter
Pulv. e flor. Primul. Veris quantitate giiij
C. Scarburgh Tho. Short
Tho. Witherly R. Lower
G. Charleton Ed. King
Ed. Dickenson M. Lyster
C. Frasier Fer. Mendes
Ut nocte etiam Alvus flueret praescriptum quoque
fuit sequens medicamentum
R. Mann. opt. giij . dissolv.
in Aq. Hord. Ibj . Colatur
add. Crem. Tartar. 3j . unde
capiat iiij. secunda quaque hora.
Item ut obviam iretur urinae ardori, a vesicatoriorum
usu impendent!, confecta erat hujusmodi Emulsio, toties
R. Decoct. Hordei cu Liquorit. Ib iij
Amygd. d. excorticat. N xx
f. Emulsio Sacchar. alb. edulcor.
C. Scarburgh F. Mendes Ed. King
T. Witherly T. Short M. Lyster
W. Charleton R. Lower J. Lefebure
E. Dickenson G. Frasier
Super additum fuit Eccoproticum ex Tinctur. Sacr. l
in Vin. alb. extract, giij, mox ab Enemate rejecto pro-
1 Sacred Tincture : contained Species Hierae Picrae (see before),
Absinth, Centaury, Spirit of Wine, Anise.
60 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
Enematis autem istius forma tails erat
R. Decoct, commun. Ibj. Spec. Hier. i
Salis Gem. 3jss. Syr. e Sp. Cerv. t>uj
Horum Praescript. subscripsit
Interim Siti prospectum erat praesidio sequent!, quod
alvum simul subduceret
R. Mann. opt. 3yj. Crem. Tartar. 3ss
dissolve in haustu Jusculi tenuioris
vel Aq. Hord. Biij. Sumatur.
Consultum etiam erat ut Regia Majestas persisteret
in usu turn emulsionis, turn Jusculi tenuioris vicibus
alternis, utque interdum Cerevisiae tenuioris non lupu-
latae haustulus interponeretur pro arbitrio per totam
Haec dum peragebantur, Serenissimi Regis naribus
subinde admovebatur l Spir. Salis*,'tam ad invigorandum
Cerebrum, quam ad Sternutationem excitandam. Per
intervalla exhibitae etiam fuerunt guttulae viginti ejus-
dem quidem Spiritus sed Succinati, in haustulo Aquae
Lactis Alexiteriae 2 .
Et ne quid intentatum relinqueretur, quo ulterior
adhuc turn revulsio, turn derivatio e Capite fieret,
applicabantur plantis Empl. Cephalic, cum Euphorbio 3
et Pice Burgundica, partibus aequalibus.
1 The significance of the asterisk is not apparent. The pre-
paration is clearly Spirit of Sal Ammoniac, of which in subsequent
Pharmacopoeias there was a Succinate variety.
8 Aqua Lactis Alexiteriae composed of Leaves of Ulmaria,
Thistle, Mint, Absinth, Rue, Angelica, Milk.
3 A noxious ingredient of this plaster was Pigeon's dung. It
probably was not employed for its adhesive properties, as the
plaster contains Resin. Goose's dung was considered almost a
specific for jaundice, when taken by the stomach.
MANUSCRIPT OF SCARBURGH 61
Atque in hunc modum finiebantur
Consilia Medicorum primo
A Medicis ordinatum, ut Rex Serenissimus proce-
deret in usu Tinctur. Sacr. sexta quaque hora, dosi
ante descripta, horisque intermediis adderet dosin Mann,
praescript. cu Crem. Tart, in tenui jusculo dissolutam,
et ne Dysuria nimium saeviret interponeret usum
Emulsionis: Et ad vires refocillandas Cerebrumque
eadem opera invigorandam exhibit! fuerunt Spir. Salis
Ammoniaci in Aq. Lactis Alexiter. quoties languor
Hujus Consilii Authores erant
Ch. Scarburgh T. Witherly
G. Charleton C. Frasier
E. Dickenson F. Mendes
T. Short R. Lower
E. King E. Browne
J. Lefebure M. Lister
Qui sub meridiem rursus convenientes, necessarium
esse judicarunt, ut, aperta vena jugulari alterutra, San-
guinis educerentur unciae circiter decem, quamprimum
et commodum fieri possit.
Quo facto, ad demulcendum Urinae ardorem ex
Vesicatoriis oriundum, praescripta fuit. Emulsio sequens
R. Rad. Alth. siccat. ij. Coq. in Aq. Hord.
Ib iij ad ij. Amygd. d. excort. N 6. Sem.
Melon. 3ss f. Emulsio edulcoranda Syr. de
Alth. j. unde saepius bibatur haustulus
ad mitigandam Sitim Dysuriamque leniendam.
Repetitum fuit Decoct. Hord. in cujus Ibj. dissolutae
fuerunt Mann. opt. giij. unde propinabantur Cochlear. 6.
tertia quaque hora in jusculi ex pullo Gallinaceo facti
haustu, idque ut alvus subinde officii sui memor esset.
62 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
Ad haec Rege de doloribus in fauce conquerente,
apparenteque inibi Excoriatione levi, sequens Gar-
garismus praescriptus fuit
B. Cort. interioris Ulmj Bj
Coq. in Aq. Hord. Ib ij ad j
Colatur. add. Syr. de Alth. j. Misce
C. Scarburgh E. Browne
T. Short G. Charleton
F. Mendes R. Lower
Porro consultissimum videbatur, ut alvus semper sol-
veretur, exhibendo eum in finem Tinctur. Sacrae modo
memoratae Bij ' postea repetita Mannae ut supra dis-
solutae dosi consueta; utque Emulsionis et Jusculi
tenuis alternatim exhibitorum propinarentur haustuli.
Ac habita vitalis indicationis ratione scriptum fuit
Julapium in hunc modum
R. Aq. Ceras. nigror. Flor. Til. aa Bvi
Lil. Conval. giiij. Paeon, comp. Bij
Spin Lavend. comp. BSS. Margaritar. praep. 3ij
Sacch. Cand. alb. q. s. ad gratiam, ut fiat
Julapium; unde pitisset 1 quoties placuerit
4. 5. vel 6 Cochl. maxime in languoribus.
Huic Consilio suffragia sua contulerunt
C. Scarburgh E. Browne
T. Witherly E. King
E. Dickenson T. Short
W. Charlton J. Lefebure
T. Middleton M. Lister
R. Lower G. Farrell
Eadem purgandi necessitate usque urgente, denuo
propinarunt Tinctur. Sacr. giij cum Syr. e. Spin.
1 See Cooper's Thesaurus 1565: 'Pitisso, to sippe or drynke
little. Terent.' This is the mediaeval sense, but not that in which
Terence used it.
MANUSCRIPT OF SCARBURGH 63
Cerv. 3vj. Aq. Paeon, comp. giij. ac secunda post
mediam noctem hora elapsa, ingestae sunt etiam Syr. e
Sp. Cerv. 3ij, in haustu Infusionis Mannae
Haecque ex Consilio
C. Scarburgh R. Lower
T. Witherly F. Mendes
W. Charlton T. Short
C. Frasier M. Lister
E. Browne J. Lefebure
Medicis visum est Apozema laxativum simul et leniens
praescribere in hunc modum conficiendum, et ad usus
pro re nata servandum
R. Tartar, alb. gss. Coq. in Aq. font. Ibjss
Vini alb. Ibss. turn infunde Fol. Senn. Bj.ss.
Mann. opt. giiij. flor. Chamoemel. P ij.
rad. Gentian. 3ss. Nuc. Moschat. 3j ad lenem
focum per 3 horas ; deinde fiat Colatura per
C. Scarburgh R. Lower
T. Witherly F. Mendes
T. Millington M. Lister
G. Charlton E. King
E. Dickenson G. Farrell
E. Browne J. Lefebuer
Qui omnes tempore pomeridiano ad consulendum
denuo conventi sequentia ordinarunt.
Offerantur M. R. Apozematis modo descripti Biiij.
nona a meridie hora, repetaturque eadem dosis secunda
vel tertia post mediam noctem hora, si id commodum
visum fuerit Medicis praesentibus.
Interim per totam noctem per vices reficiantur S. R.
vires nunc Jusculi tenuioris sorbitionibus, nunc Emul-
64 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
sionis haustulis, nunc liquore Posseti, interponendo
interdum Cerevisiae non lupulatae usum, itemque Ju-
lapii Cephalico-Cardiaci solitam dosim, praesertim si
Porro S. R. provecta nocte gravius affecto advigi-
lantibus Medicis consultum videbatur haustulum pro-
R. Sp. Cran. human. l g* xxxx
Cap. in Cyatho Julapii Cordialis quamprimum.
C. Scarburgh R. Lower
E. Dickenson F. Mendes
T. Millington C. Farwell
Cum Medici qui in Cubiculo Regio vigilias agitarant,
observassent Majestatem fuisse Morbi Exacerbationem
quandam ceu Paroxysmum singulis noctibus passam,
cumque eorum nonnulli affirmassent grassari passim
in Urbe febres quasdam intermittentes, quae cum diris
quidem Convulsionibus primum invadentes facile tamen
Corticis Peruviani Febrifugi usu (praemissis praemit-
tendis) profligarentur, propterea omnes in earn con-
currunt sententiam, ut Cortex ille S. R. exhiberetur
ad nocturnas Symptomatum exacerbationes cito tutoque
Praescribunt itaqueCorticem hac ratione propinandum.
R. Cort. Peruvian, subtil, pulv. 3j. Aq. Lactis
Alexiter. 3iiij. Syr. Garyophyl. 3ij. M. in haustulo,
oportuno tempore bibend. iterandumque quoties assi-
stentibus Medicis visum fuerit.
1 Human skull was commonly employed in convulsive disorders.
The purpose was suggestive, viz. to excite horror, as it was to be
the skull of a man who had died a violent death.
MANUSCRIPT OF SCARBURGH 65
Huic subscripserunt Praescripto
T. Witherly C. Scarburgh W. Charleton
T. Millington E. Dickenson R. Lower
T. Short E. Browne F. Mendes
E. King C. Frasier J. Lefeur
E. Farrell M. Lister
Qui etiam conjunctis sententiis statuebant, turn ut
Corticis Febrifugi jam definita dosis Serenissimo Regi
porrigeretur hora sexta et nona matutina, itemque
meridie in Aq. Lactis Alexiter. siiij, turn ut horis inter-
mediis Spiritus Cranii human! g" xxxx in Julapii
Perlati Cyatho interponeretur.
Ingravescente jam turn morbo Serenissimique Regis
viribus (Proh Dolor) sensim languentibus Medici ad
Generosiorum Cardiacorum asylum confugere compulsi,
R. Antidoti Raleighanae 1 major 3ss
Sumat statim in Cochlear. Julap.
Perlat. superbibendo mox Julapii
ejusdem cochlearia 4*.
. Lapidis Goae 2 B j. Cap. post horam j
vel alteram in Jusculi haustu.
1 Confectio Raleighana in Pharmacopoeia Londinensis, 1724.
This was an extract made of the different parts of an incredible
number of herbs, parts of animals, and animal products, such as
Pearls, Coral, and Bezoars. Its composition became greatly
modified in later Pharmacopoeias, till it became the Confectio
Aromatica of later days. The virtue of Raleigh's antidote resided
more in the multiplicity of its components than in the physiological
activity of all or any of them. ' Antidoti Raleighanae ' : the gender
suggests that ' Confectionis' is understood.
2 A false or artificial Bezoar (see below).
66 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
C. Scarburgh R. Lower
T. Witherly E. Browne
G. Charleton T. Short
T. Millington C. Frasier
P. Barwick F. Mendes
E. King C. Farel
J. Febeur M. Lister
Qui post horas aliquot rursum conventi ad incitas
propemodum redacti hujusmodi Remedia instituerunt
R. Cortic. Peruvian. 3jss. Vini Rhenan. giij
mixta extemplo propinentur.
Persistat Serenissimus Rex in usu Spin Salis Ammo-
niac. Julapi Cordialis Cyatho contemperati, quantitate
antehac definita ac praestitutis temporibus.
Sumat hora octava post meridiem Sp. Salis Ammo-
niaci Succinati g u xx in Cochlearibus 4* Julapii Perlati,
eandem utriusque dosin alternis horis quandiu advigi-
lantibus Medicis commodum videbitur.
R. l Lapidis Bezoard. oriental. Bij
Cap. in Cochleari Julapii Perlat.
mox superbibend. ejusdem Julapii dosin
Ex quo elapsis horis tribus S. R. magis magisque
languente, ita praescriptum
R. Julap. descript. Cochl. 5
Sp. Salis Ammoniac. g tt xx
Misceantur in potiunculam
1 A concretion formed in the stomach of an East Indian goat.
Bezoars (a Persian word for antidote) were believed to have the
power of destroying poisons and reanimating the vital powers.
Besides the true bezoars, there were false bezoars, prepared from
powdered oyster-shells made into small balls with gum water,
and perfumed with ambergris.
MANUSCRIPT OF SCARBURGH 67
C. Scarburgh R. Lower
G. Charlton F. Mendes
P. Barwick E. King
T. Millington M. Lister
Caeterum (eheu !) intempesta jam nocte S. R. vires
usque adeo infractae videbantur, ut totus Medicorum
Chorus ab omni spe destitutus Animum Despondent:
ne tamen ulla in re officio suo viderentur deesse,
Generosissimum illud Cardiacum instituunt.
R. Antidoti Raleighanae 3j
Julap. Perlat. Cochl. 5
Sp. Salis Ammoniac, succinat.
g* xx. M. statim propinentur.
Novissimo huic maestissimoque Medicorum Con-
C. Scarburgh T. Witherly
E. Dickenson T. Millington
E. Browne R. Lower
R. Brady P. Barwick
T. Short J. Lefebur
Aderat etiam Inclytus ille Heros, Regis Frater
Unicus, Regnique Optimo Jure Haeres, Jacobus tune
Eboraci quidem et Albaniae Dux illustrissimus, hodie
vero Britaniaru Augustissimus Monarcha, qui summa
in Regem Pietate et plusquam Fraterno Amore affectus,
de illius Salute usque adeo sollicitus fuit, ut a decum-
bentis lecto vix unquam decedere sustinuerit, nunc
totus in luctu versans, nunc sedulus exequendis Medi-
corum Consiliis ipsemet invigilans alias ab Archiatro
Coelesti Opem Auxiliumque ardentissimis precibus
votisque et gemitibus subinde effusis implorans, ut
68 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
omnibus constiterit maluisse ipsum Clarissimi Fratris
consortio perfrui, quam Sceptro, frustra reluctantibus
Fatis. Nam post tot Amicorum Vota et Suspiria, post
omne genus Medelae a fidelissimis juxta et eruditissimis
Medicis tentatum, Regum Optimus Orthopnoea lethali
ex improviso correptus, quae cum subinde violentiam
remitteret, mox acrius recrudesceret, fomite mali per-
petuo superstite, tandem toto Naturae robore Dolorum
immanitate attrito, mortalem Coronam placide deposuit,
ut acciperet Immortalem.
Expiravit Februar. Sexto paulo post meridiem,
Anno Aetatis quinquagesimo quarto ad finem
In Caroli Secundi Augustissimi
Britafiiarum Regis Corpore
aperto post mortem
i. In Cerebri Cortice Venae et Arteriae supra modum
2. Cerebri turn ventriculi omnes serosa quadam
materia inundati, turn ipsa substantia consimili humore
haud leviter imbuta.
3. Thoraci dextri lateris Pulmones Pleurae tenaciter
adhaerentes, sinistra vero plane liberi, quemadmodum
ex Naturae institute in sanis esse solet.
4. Pulmonum substantia neutiquam culpanda quidem,
sed Sanguine referta.
5. Cor amplum firmumque, et in omnibus rectissime
6. In infimo ventre nihil praeter naturale, nisi quod
Hepatis color ad lividitatem inclinaret, forte a sanguinis
inibi restitantis pleonasmo, quo Renes et Lien cerne-
TRANSLATION OF SCARBURGH'S MS. 69
CHARLES II 1
FEB. 2, 1684.
PRECISELY at eight o'clock His Most Serene Majesty
King Charles the Second, having just left his bed, was
walking about quietly in his bed-chamber, when he felt
some unusual disturbance in his brain, which was soon
followed by loss of speech and convulsions of some
There happened to be present at the time two in
all of the King's Physicians, and they, so as promptly
to forestal so serious a danger to this best of Kings,
opened a vein in his right arm, and drew off about
sixteen ounces of blood. Meantime too the rest of the
Physicians had been summoned by express messengers,
and flocked quickly to the King's assistance ; and after
they had held a consultation together, they strenuously
endeavoured to afford timely succour to His Majesty
in his dangerous state.
Indeed they prescribed three cupping-glasses to be
applied to his shoulders, to be quickly followed by
scarification deep enough to effect a fuller and more
vigorous revulsion, and in this manner about eight
ounces of blood were withdrawn.
Within a few moments after this, so as to free his
stomach of all impurities, and by the same action to rid
his whole nervous system of anything harmful to it,
they administered an Emetic, to wit, half an ounce of
Orange Infusion of the metals, made in white wine ;
and as only a small part of this was taken, so that
their endeavour might not be altogether frustrated,
they added one drachm of white vitriol dissolved in
compound Paeony Water.
1 In the translation the crabbed form of the original, and the
varied spelling of the proper names have been adhered to as closely
70 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
Soon afterwards they gave as well one drachm of
two-blend Pills, likewise dissolved in Paeony Water,
and this so as to drain away the humours more speedily
by his nether channels.
Further, so as to accelerate the operation of that
Purgative, they supplemented it with an Enema made
up as follows :
R. Common Decoction for Clysters i pint
Powder of Sacred Bitter i ounce
Syrup of Buckthorn 2 ounces
Rock Salt \ drachm
Orange Infusion of the metals 2 ounces
To be mixed.
All these remedies were ordered by these Physicians
in consultation :
Chas. Scarburgh C. Frasier
Edm. Dickenson Tho. Short
Rich. Lower Edm. King
After one or two hours they repeated the Clyster,
with the addition of 2 ounces of Syrup of Buckthorn,
4 ounces of Emetic Wine, and 2 drachms of Rock Salt.
But as these were slow in operation, they made still
another effort to attain the same end with yet more
purgatives, prepared as follows :
R. Two-blend Pills 2 drachms, dissolved in compound
Paeony Water 3 ounces, of which the King was to take
i ounce immediately, the remainder to be reserved for
Over and above this, so as to leave no stone unturned,
Blistering agents were applied all over his head, after
his hair had been shaved.
Those in consultation :
Chas. Scarburgh F. Mendes
Thos. Witherly Rich. Lower
Edmund Dickenson Tho. Short
W r . Charleton Edm. King
TRANSLATION OF SCARBURGH'S MS. 71
As evening came on, so as to persevere in their object
of diverting and withdrawing the humours from his
head, and at the same time to give strength to his loaded
brain, they prescribed the following combination :
R. Sacred Bitter Powder i ounce
Compound Paeony Water i pint
Bryony Compound \ pint
Mix and make a Tincture.
To be taken as often, and in such quantities, as the
Physicians present may deem advisable.
At the same time, so as to excite sneezing, a powder
was prepared of a drachm of White Hellebore roots,
to be kept in readiness to be applied to the King's
nostrils, as occasion arose.
A second Powder also was made up out of 4 ounces
of Cowslip flowers (to strengthen his brain).
Those in consultation :
C. Scarburgh Tho. Short
Tho. Witherly R. Lower
W r . Charleton Edm. King
Edm. Dickenson M. Lyster
C. Frasier Fer. Mendes
So as to keep his bowels active at night as well, the
following remedy was prescribed :
R. Best Manna 3 ounces. Dissolve
in Barley Water i pint. Filter,
add Cream of Tartar i drachm, of which
take 3 ounces every second hour.
At the same time, so as to counteract the scalding
of his urine, likely to result from the use of blistering
drugs, an Emulsion was made up as follows, to be
drunk as often as required :
72 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
R. Decoction of Barley with Liquorice 3 pints
Sweet Almond Kernels No. 20
To be made into an Emulsion and sweetened with
C. Scarburgh F. Mendes Edm. King
T.Witherly T. Short M. Lyster
W r . Charleton R. Lower J. Lefebvre
E. Dickenson C. Frasier
To these was added further a mild Laxative of Sacred
Tincture extracted in white Wine, 3 ounces, to be
administered soon after the enema was returned. But
the formula of that enema was as under :
R. Common Decoction i pint. Sacred Powder i ounce
Rock Salt i J drachms. Syrup of Buckthorn 3 ounces
The prescription for these remedies was signed by
Meantime steps were taken to stave off thirst by
the following, calculated at the same time to move the
R. Best Manna 6 drachms. Cream of Tartar | drachm,
dissolve in a draught of thin broth or 3 ounces of
Barley Water. To be taken.
It was also decided that His Majesty the King should
continue to take both the emulsion and the thin broth
alternately, with a draught of light ale made without
hops introduced from time to time as occasion deter-
mined throughout the night.
While these measures were being carried out, Spirit
of Sal Ammoniac was applied now and again to His
Most Serene Majesty's nostrils, both as a cerebral stimu-
lant, and to excite Sneezing. At intervals also, twenty
drops of the same Spirit, but of the Succinate kind, were
given in a small draught of Antidotal Milk Water.
So as to leave nothing at all untried, to promote still
further both the revulsion and the derivation from
TRANSLATION OF SCARBURGH'S MS. 73
his Head, Cephalic Plasters combined with Spurge and
Burgundy Pitch, in equal parts, were applied to the
soles of his feet.
And in this way came to a close
the Consultations of the Physicians held
on the first day.
The Physicians ordered His Most Serene Majesty
to go on taking the Sacred Tincture every six hours,
in the dose previously mentioned, with the addition at
the intervening hours of a dose of Manna prescribed
with Cream of Tartar, dissolved in light broth ; also,
to mitigate the distress produced by his difficulty of
micturition, to use the Emulsion between times : while
to revive his strength and in the same way to stimulate
his brain, they administered Spirits of Sal Ammoniac
in Antidotal Milk Water, as often as exhaustion seemed
The following authorized this advice :
C. Scarburgh T. Witherly
W r . Charleton C. Frasier
Edm. Dickenson F. Mendes
T. Short R. Lower
E. King E. Browne
J. Lefebvre M. Lister
These same meeting again close on noon, considered
it necessary to open both jugular veins and draw off
about ten ounces of blood, as soon as ever it could
be conveniently managed.
After this was done, so as to mitigate the scalding
of the Urine that the Blistering agents would inevitably
set up, the following Emulsion was prescribed :
R. Dried Mallow Root i ounce. Heat in 2 or 3
pints of Barley Water. Sweet Almond Kernels
N 6. Melon Seeds I drachm. Make into an
74 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
Emulsion to be sweetened with Syrup of Mallow,
i ounce. Of this let him take a small draught
as often as may be to relieve Thirst and allay
Difficulty of Micturition.
Decoction of Barley was repeated, and in i pint of
it were dissolved 3 ounces of Best Manna, of which
6 tablespoonfuls were administered every third hour
in a draught of Chicken broth, so as to keep the bowels
acting from time to time.
At this juncture, as the King was complaining of
pain in his throat, in which a superficial Excoriation
was to be seen, the following Gargle was prescribed :
R. Inner Bark of Elm i ounce
Heat in i to 2 pints of Barley Water,
Filter : add i ounce of Syrup of Mallow. Mix.
C. Scarburgh E. Browne
T. Short W r . Charleton
F. Mendes R. Lower
Further it seemed most desirable that his bowels
should be kept continuously relaxed, by administering
for that purpose 2 ounces of the Sacred Tincture just
mentioned, and repeating subsequently the usual dose
of Manna dissolved as stated above; and that small
draughts of the Emulsion and of the light Broth should
be given alternately.
Besides this, paying heed to the vital indication of
the case, a Julep was written out as follows :
R. Black Cherry Water : Flowers of Lime, 6 ounces
of each, Lilies of the Valley 4 ounces : Paeony
Compound 2 ounces. Compound Spirit of
Lavender ounce. Prepared Pearls, 2 drachms :
White Sugar Candy to taste, sufficient to make
a Julep : of which he might sip, as often as he
pleased, 4. 5. or 6 Tablespoonfuls, particularly
TRANSLATION OF SCARBURGH'S MS. 75
To this advice the following gave unanimous approval :
C. Scarburgh E. Browne
T. Witherly E. King
E. Dickenson T. Short
W r . Charleton J. Lefebvre
T. Middleton M. Lister
R. Lower C. Farrell
As the same need for purgation still remained urgent,
they administered afresh Sacred Tincture 3 ounces,
with Syrup of Buckthorn 6 drachms. Compound
Paeony Water 3 ounces, and at 2 a. m. also 2 ounces
of Syrup of Buckthorn were introduced, in a draught
of Infusion of Manna.
This was the joint advice of:
C. Scarburgh R. Lower
T. Witherly F. Mendes
W. Charlton T. Short
C. Frasier M. Lister
E. Browne J. Lefebvre
It seemed advisable to the Physicians to prescribe
a mild laxative Decoction, composed as follows, to be
kept for use as occasion arose :
R. White Tartar ounce. Heat in i pints of
Spring Water. White Wine \ pint : then infuse
i-J ounces of Senna Leaves. Best Manna, 4
ounces. Flowers of Chamomile, 2 handfuls.
Gentian Root, \ drachm. Nutmeg i drachm:
at a gentle heat for 3 hours: then filter and
purify by settlement.
C. Scarburgh E. Browne M. Lister
T. Witherly T. Short E. King
T. Millington R. Lower C. Farrell
W r . Charlton F. Mendes J. Lefebvre
76 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
All the above met afresh in consultation in the
afternoon and ordered the following remedies :
4 ounces of the Decoction just described to be given
to His Majesty the King at 9 p.m., the same dose to be
repeated at 2 or 3 a.m. if it seem advisable to the
Physicians in attendance.
Along with this His Serene Majesty's strength should
be supported throughout the night with drinks of light
broth, with draughts of Emulsion and with liquid
Posset, first one, then another, with now and then
as a change Ale made without hops, and occasionally
the usual dose of Cerebro-Cardiac Julep, especially
in presence of exhaustion.
Further, as His Serene Majesty's condition became
more grave as the night advanced, the Physicians who
were watching him considered it advisable to administer
the following small draught :
R. Spirit of human Skull 40 drops.
Take in an ounce and a half of Cordial Julep as soon
The advisers were :
C. Scarburgh R. Lower
E. Dickenson F. Mendes
T. Millington C. Farwell
As the Physicians who had kept anxious watch in
the King's Bedchamber had noticed that His Majesty's
illness underwent each night some exacerbation or
paroxysmal increase, and as some of them had stated
confidently that some sort of intermittent fever was
prevalent in town, which though it came on with
alarming convulsions at the onset still was readily
brought to an end by the use of Peruvian Bark Febri-
fuge (after appropriate preliminary measures) ; on this
TRANSLATION OF SCARBURGH'S MS. 77
account they were unanimously of opinion, that this
Bark should be administered to His Serene Majesty,
so as to anticipate speedily and surely the nocturnal
exacerbations of the symptoms. Accordingly they
prescribed Bark to be given in the following
R Fine powder of Peruvian Bark, i drachm. Anti-
dotal Milk Water, 4 ounces. Syrup of Cloves,
2 drachms. Mix and make a small draught,
to be taken when indicated, and repeated as
often as may seem advisable to the Physicians
This prescription was signed by the following :
T. Witherly C. Scarburgh W r . Charleton
T. Millington Edm. Dickenson R. Lower
T. Short E. Browne F. Mendes
Edm. King C. Frasier J. Lefebvre
E. Farrell M. Lister
They also determined with one consent that a specified
dose of Febrifuge Bark should be handed to His Most
Serene Majesty at 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., and also at noon
in 4 ounces of Antidotal Milk Water, and to introduce
at the intermediate hours 40 drops of Spirit of Human
Skull in an ounce and a half of Pearl Julep.
As the illness was now becoming more grave and His
Most Serene Majesty's strength (Woe's me !) gradually
failing the Physicians were compelled to have recourse
to the more active Cardiac Tonics, and to prescribe the
R. Raleigh's Stronger Antidote | drachm
To be taken at once in a Tablespoonful of Pearl Julep,
and followed soon after by 4 Tablespoonfuls
of the same Julep.
R. Goa Stone i scruple. To be taken an hour or
two later in a draught of Broth.
78 THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
The Consultants were
C. Scarburgh R. Lower
T. Witherly E. Browne
W r . Charleton T. Short
T. Millington C. Frasier
P. Barwick F. Mendes
E. King C. Farel
J. Lefebvre M. Lister
Some hours afterwards they met again and being
reduced almost to their last resource instituted the
following line of treatment :
R. Peruvian Bark i| drachms. Rhine Wine 3 ounces.
To be mixed and administered forthwith.
His Most Serene Majesty was to persist in taking
Spirit of Sal Ammoniac blended with an ounce and a half
of Cordial Julep, in the quantity previously determined
and at the appointed times.
At 8 p.m. he was to take 20 drops of Succinate
Spirit of Sal Ammoniac in 4 Tablespoonfuls of Pearl
Julep, and the same dose of each every other hour as
long as the Physicians watching him shall deem fit.
R. Oriental Bezoar Stone 2 scruples
To be taken in a Tablespoonful of Pearl Julep,
and followed soon after by the usual dose of
the same Julep.
Three hours later His Serene Majesty sinking lower
and lower, the following was prescribed :
R. The Julep aforesaid 5 table-spoonfuls
Spirit of Sal Ammoniac 20 drops
To be mixed into a small draught
and drunk there and then.
In consultation :
C. Scarburgh R. Lower
W r . Charlton F. Mendes
P. Barwick E. King
T. Millington M. Lister
TRANSLATION OF SCARBURGH'S MS. 79
But (alas!) after an ill-fated night His Serene Majesty's
strength seemed exhausted to such a degree, that the
whole assemblage of Physicians lost all hope and became
despondent: still so as not to appear to fail in doing
their duty in any detail, they brought into play that
most active Cordial:
R. Raleigh's Antidote i drachm
Pearl Julep 5 tablespoonfuls
Succinate Spirit of Sal Ammoniac 20 drops.
Mix. To be administered forthwith.
At this last and most dismal meeting of Physicians
there were present:
C. Scarburgh T. Witherly
E. Dickenson T. Millington
E. Browne R. Lower
R. Brady P. Barwick
T. Short J. Lefebvre
There was present also that renowned Hero, the
King's only Brother, and Heir by an unimpeachable
title to the Crown, James then most illustrious Duke
of York and also of Albany, to-day however Most
August Monarch of the Britains, who moved by the
deepest affection for the King and by a more than
brotherly love, was so anxious for his recovery, that
he scarcely ever had the heart to leave the prostrate
King's bedside, at times completely overwhelmed with
grief, at times himself watching attentively the following
out of the Physicians' instructions, at other times im-
ploring Heaven's Arch- Healer for help and succour
with most earnest prayers and vows and with repeated
lamentations, so that it was clear to all that he
preferred to enjoy the comradeship of his Most Dis-
tinguished Brother, rather than the Sceptre, but to
no purpose, for the Fates were arrayed against him.
For in spite of the vows and sighs of so many
friends, in spite of every kind of treatment attempted
8o THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES II
by Physicians of the greatest loyalty and skill, this
Best of Kings was seized quite unexpectedly by a
mortal distress of breathing that compelled him to
sit upright ; and though from time to time its violence
abated, it soon returned more urgently than before,
for the tinder the disease had fired still smouldered
unceasingly, till at length all his natural strength was
exhausted by the immensity of his sufferings, and he
peacefully laid down his mortal Crown, to take up
He expired on February the Sixth soon after noon,
Towards the end of the fifty-fourth year of his age.
In the Body of Charles the Second, Most August
King of the Britains, when opened after death
were found :
i. On the Surface of the Brain the Veins and Arteries
were unduly full.
2. All the Cerebral ventricles were filled with a kind
of serous matter, and the substance of the Brain itself
was quite soaked with similar fluid.
3. On the right side the Lungs and Pleura were
firmly adherent to the chest-wall, but on the left side
they were quite free, as Nature has ordained they
should be in health.
4. No fault whatever could be found with the sub-
stance of the Lungs, but they were charged with blood.
5. The heart was large and firm, and quite free from
malformation in every part.
6. In the depths of the belly there was nothing
unnatural, except that the Liver was inclined to be livid
in colour, perhaps because of the abundance of blood
in it, with which the Kidneys and Spleen were also
DA Crawfurd, (Sir) Paymond
445 Henry Payne
C73 The last days of Charles II
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